“It all started back in 2014. I remember my brother asking me if I could bring some Bulgarian cheese over to the Netherlands, where he was working at an aerospace company at the time.
So, we came up with the idea of a flying van that can ship goods fast and cheap anywhere,” shares Svilen Rangelov, who co-founded the unmanned cargo drone company Dronamics together with his brother Konstantin Rangelov.
Since then, the name of Dronamics has been linked to numerous big successes, including the launch of a Droneport Network with 39 airports across Europe and the announcement of key partnerships with some of the world’s biggest logistics providers like DHL and Hellmann.
Today we meet Svilen to learn how bold ideas turn into a reality and why the sky is no longer the limit. Let’s get started.
Tell us more about the company's launch and development.
After coming up with the initial idea, we started figuring out our next steps. We were inspired by the Amazon drone developments for last-mile deliveries but instead, we decided to focus on a middle-mile solution that is essentially an unmanned airplane built and designed for cargo only and can service remote locations at a very low cost.
Our first major milestones were winning the 2015 Pioneers Festival and securing our seed round by Eleven Ventures that allowed us to build a team and start working on the airplane prototypes.
Over the years we validated our technology and production with several quarter-scale prototypes of our unmanned aircraft - the Black Swan.
Today, we are a full-fledged team of more than 60 people - engineers, test pilots, and experts in aviation and logistics.
What was the impact of COVID-19 on your business? What were the main challenges and opportunities?
The border closures and significant deficit of airfreight capabilities for shipping vital medical and protection goods that we saw globally pushed many of the big industry players to seek alternative solutions (like ours) that could solve future supply chain restraints.
Customer interest has definitely picked up and we are happy that we have signed the first few big names on the list in these difficult times.
As a business where most of our employees need to work on-site, keeping our staff COVID-free and dealing with supplier delays has been a big challenge. Nevertheless, we have managed to put effective measures in place to minimize the impact of the pandemic on our teams - both in production and R&D.
Tell us a bit about your recent successes and the unmanned cargo airplane the “Black Swan".
Moreover, we have joined a UK-based consortium that aims to develop a drone-delivery network for the NHS Scotland, connecting Glasgow to remote hospital locations throughout Scotland.
Beyond those already announced projects, we are actively working on several cases for shipping goods for e-commerce, pharma, spare parts, and perishables across multiple geographies.
We are well-positioned to offer an entirely new mode of transport that can deliver at the speed of air at the cost of road transportation.