This cargo plane flew over Northern California with no pilot on board

This cargo plane flew over Northern California with no pilot on board

technology By Dec 21, 2023 No Comments

Launching and growing a tech startup company takes a lot of time and sweat equity, and eventually, it nearly always requires outside investment.

Market research, development and iteration, testing, and marketing are all costly steps, and in a tech company, they happen on a “rinse and repeat” cycle.

Fortunately, in a tech-driven marketplace and economy, there are investment dollars to be found—venture capitalists are always looking to get in on the ground floor of a promising technology company.

However, to gain the confidence of VCs, tech entrepreneurs have to know what they’re looking for and learn to speak their language.

Among the members of are successful startup founders (some several times over).

Below, 20 of them share their advice for new tech entrepreneurs who are testing the VC waters for the first time.

1. Pitch Your Strong Fundamentals And Long-Term Potential In today’s economy, investors have a more critical eye than ever for strong business fundamentals and long-term market potential.

Businesses looking for investors should emphasize these aspects in their pitches and continue to find ways to sharpen them over time to showcase the potential ROI. – , 2.

Pilot With Customers Early And Often Focus on building a viable business by piloting with customers early and often.

The presence of engaged, paying customers will be your largest asset.

Avoid diverting all of your time and attention to fundraising alone; ensure fundraising is a vehicle and catalyst for growth rather than the destination.

– , is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives.

3. Be Wary Of Diluting Your Ownership Stake Don’t raise more capital than you need.

It can dilute your ownership stake because the more money you raise, the more you’ll have to give away.

Also, it can create unrealistic expectations—investors will be expecting big returns on their investments.

Further, it can make it harder to raise follow-on funding, as investors may be concerned that you’re not using your capital wisely.

– , 4. Focus On The Basics Through founding three startups, I’ve learned that the best approach focuses on the basics.

Tell venture capitalists how you’re uniquely solving a big problem for businesses today (not tomorrow).

Speak to how large your market is, and demonstrate that you have a credible team with the confidence to execute your vision.

– , 5.

Brace For Numerous Rejections Navigate VC funding as a mix of numbers, optimism and discipline.

Brace for numerous rejections, and understand that those rejections are often about investor fit, not your shortcomings.

Meticulously refine your pitch, conduct in-depth research and use Crunchbase for precise targeting.

Embrace the process: Present, learn, refine and repeat.

Resilience and discipline are key; the right funding match will emerge through persistence.

– ,

6. Favor A Sound Foundation Over Rapid Expansion Maintain a clear focus on long-term growth when pursuing VC financing.

While financing is necessary, don’t favor rapid expansion over a sound business foundation.

Seek investors who value consistent, scalable growth and share your goal for long-term success.

Balancing expansion and stability is critical for navigating the competitive landscape and making a long-term impact.

– , 7. Think Through And Document Critical Processes Having structure and organization in how you operate is as important as the value of your product or service.

Being able to showcase that you have thought through the legal, ethical and operational processes that are a part of your organization will be necessary and will help your case when you’re seeking investment.

In addition, be sure to write things down.

Documentation is always critical to share.

– , 8.

Craft A Compelling Story

The key to impressing investors is a good story that amplifies your unique value proposition.

Focus on tangible, relatable real-world problems that will be solved faster, better and in a more sophisticated way with your technology solution.

While telling the story, don’t glorify the problem; focus on the solution, and keep corporate BS at bay—this isn’t a “fake it until you make it” situation.

Money sits tight, and due diligence seeks out the best!

– , 9.

Ensure You Have A Solid GTM Strategy Focusing solely on technology without a solid go-to-market strategy leads many startups to fail.

Successful companies identify target customers, understand customer reach strategies, engage partners for market delivery, generate revenue and build resources for the entire value chain.

– , 10.

Prioritize Operational Excellence

My advice to tech startups is to prioritize operational excellence.

Investors are not just backing your product; they are investing in your ability to execute flawlessly.

A well-oiled operation not only attracts funding, but also ensures sustained growth and long-term success.

Make your operations a star player in your funding pitch, and you’ll be on the fast track to capture investments.

– , 11.

Consult With Outside Experts Far too often, tech startup leaders believe they have the next killer product or service, but that’s rarely the case.

Before you bank on VC money to take your business to the next level, make sure you put your concept through the gauntlet of skeptics and battle-test your path to sustainable profit.

If you survive this step, you might just have something.

– , 12.

Develop A Diverse Team

My advice is to build a team with diverse skills and experiences.

Such a team can enhance your ability to execute your vision and show investors that your company has the depth and resilience to overcome challenges.

Remember, investors invest in ideas and the people behind them.

Hence, a well-rounded team can play a significant role in securing funding for your startup.

– , 13.

First, Sign A Paying Customer Validation and a track record of progress are everything, even if the track record is short.

Product-market fit and validation by paying customer is by far the most interesting detail for investors.

Solid knowledge of the “why,” “what,” and “how” communicates confidence and competence, and design customers will usually pay a small amount for guaranteed access for a year.

Use that truth to sign as many of them as possible.

Then go in.

– , 14.

Avoid Reliance On Trends And Buzzwords When seeking venture capital, tech startups should avoid overrelying on tech trends or buzzwords.

Genuine, value-driven applications of technology are key, as investors can differentiate between real innovation and trend-based pitches.

Overemphasis on trends without a solid business foundation can lead to investor skepticism and undermine long-term success.

– , 15.

Back Up Your Claims With Data User testing, both quantitative and qualitative, will get you hard numbers to show to potential investors—data that shows the interest, market size and even potential monetization techniques that you will use to be successful.

If the testing indicates problems, you can catch them and adjust before you’re beholden to new investors.

– , 16.

Choose Investors By Expertise And Network Access Joining an accelerator can help you prepare, but make sure you’re a good match for both its program and investor relationships.

Choose your VCs by expertise and network access, not just capital, and engage frequently to build strong relationships.

Understand term sheets and their impact on control.

Know that your investors’ involvement can significantly shape the company’s direction and governance.

– , 17.

Time The Market In the stock market, experts advise that “time in the market beats timing the market.”

When raising venture capital, that advice doesn’t hold.

You should time the market.

Start your raise when you have achieved significant milestones, such as a prototype and initial adoption.

Raise with a purpose (for example, to build or scale your product).

Raising too early will unnecessarily dilute your equity interest.

– , 18.

Show Your Passion For The Project One meeting can change everything.

Your passion and belief in your project are more important and visible than you might imagine.

Keep a positive attitude, as investors notice defeatism.

Make as many pitches as possible.

It’s all about the math; the more pitches you make, the better you become at pitching, and the greater your chances of finding that one meeting that changes everything.

– , 19. Consider The Terms And Conditions Carefully When seeking VC funding, carefully consider the terms and conditions.

It’s crucial to look beyond the immediate financial gain and evaluate how investor involvement might influence your company’s direction, culture and autonomy.

Remember, the goal is to find a partnership that supports your vision and growth, not just a cash injection.

– , 20.

Build A Robust Independent Revenue Model Before seeking venture capital, a tech company should focus on building a robust independent revenue model.

Rely less on investor funding and more on customer revenue to demonstrate real market demand.

This approach can increase company valuation and give you more leverage in VC negotiations.

– ,

One of the world’s most widely used cargo planes completed an entire flight with no one on board for the first time.

Lasting approximately 12 minutes in total, the flight departed from Hollister Airport, in Northern California, and was operated by Reliable Robotics, which has been working since 2019 on a semi-automated flying system in which the aircraft is controlled remotely by a pilot.

The company recently announced that the 50-mile flight took place in November.

The plane was a Cessna Caravan, a robust single-engine aircraft that is a popular choice for flight training, tourism, humanitarian missions and regional cargo.

“Cessna has made 3,000 Caravans — it’s the most popular cargo plane you’ve never heard of,” says Robert Rose, CEO of Reliable Robotics.

“Pilots will tell you it’s the workhorse of the industry.

“But the challenge with this aircraft is that it flies at lower altitudes and more adverse weather conditions than many large aircraft do today.

So operating it is much more dangerous, and automation is going to go a long way to improve the safety of these operations.”

Consultancy firm AviationValues told CNN there are currently 900 Caravans in active service, and FedEx — which has been using the type since 1985 — is the largest operator with about 200 of them.

Reliable Robotics is now working with the Federal Aviation Administration to certify its technology for commercial operations, and expects that process to be complete in as little as two years.

The remote operator — a real pilot who must be certified to fly the aircraft exactly as if they were sitting in the cockpit — sends commands to the plane via encrypted satellite signals, but does not pilot the aircraft in real time nor gets any visual feed from the plane itself.

The interface they use is closer to those used by air traffic controllers than drone pilots.

“This is not a video game,” says Rose.

“There’s no joystick and you don’t have the ability to hand-fly the plane remotely.

There’s no video feed that gives you real-time feedback.

The way they control the aircraft is essentially a menu of options: you can think of it like a ‘choose your own adventure’ based on where the aircraft is, and there’s a set of buttons to allow the pilot to redirect the plane somewhere else.”

Each command sent to the plane includes all instructions required to land, so the aircraft always knows what to do even if communications are lost.

“You could say that the aircraft is autonomous,” Rose explains.

“If you tell it to do nothing else, or if you lose communications with it, it’s going to do the last thing you told it to do, which is the definition of autonomy.

It has no direct human control.”

Compared to a traditional autopilot, the Reliable Robotics system is able to perform all phases of a flight, including moving out of the gate and towards the runway, as well as taking off and landing.

But as far as other aircraft or air traffic controllers are concerned, this is just like any other plane, Rose says, because the remote operator will respond to radio calls and handle voice communications in such a way that it’s impossible to tell they’re not aboard.

What if something goes wrong?

According to Rose, there’s at least one advantage in handling emergencies remotely: if a pilot loses control of the plane, they can immediately inform air traffic control of its position and last command.

“In many ways this is better than the way aircraft operate today, because if you’re flying around in the sky and you lose radio communications, or something goes wrong with the plane, you have to do something and air traffic control has no idea what you’re going to do.

So they have to clear the airspace all around you because nobody knows what your intentions are.”

Once the system becomes commercially available, other security measures will come into effect, including a smart card that will be required to operate any aircraft.

In addition, pilots will work from a control center where other people will be watching over them.

For now, Reliable Robotics is looking to certify the system for the Caravan, but is already testing it on a larger aircraft with the US Air Force — the KC-135 Stratotanker, a military refueling plane based on the old Boeing 707 — and hopes to start testing on jet cargo aircraft within five to 10 years.

According to Rose, remotely controlled regional cargo planes would have positive effects on both safety and the ongoing pilot shortage.

“The pilot shortage is putting pressure on smaller aircraft operations, because the larger planes are sucking up all the pilots, and it’s becoming much more difficult to sustain operations with smaller aircraft fleets.

“We see remote piloting as a way to solve that problem in the near future.”

He adds that airlines will be able to streamline their operations because layovers will no longer be required, as pilots will be able to work from a single location.

As for safety, Rose says that the system will prevent common types of accidents that are linked to human error, such as “ ” and loss of control in flight, which account for the majority of fatal crashes.

Rose explains that the Reliable Robotics system has been designed to prevent them, for example by cross-checking against a terrain and obstacle database in case the plane is erroneously programmed to fly into something.

The history of pilotless aircraft goes back to the early years of aviation, with the first examples of unmanned planes in the US and Britain during World War I. Most unmanned aerial vehicles today are categorized as drones, performing a range of functions from military action to search and rescue and photography.

and , both in the US, and in the UK, are among the companies developing similar systems to Reliable Robotics, with a similar attention to the cargo sector.

In recent years, the concept of pilotless air taxis has also gained interest, with a first performed by German company Volocopter in Dubai in 2017; the Emirate is now planning to inaugurate its first “vertiport” for flying taxis within three years, albeit using vehicles manned by human pilots.

In China, urban air mobility company EHang was the first to obtain, in October, full from the local authorities to fly a pilotless passenger-carrying UAV — the result of over 40,000 test flights.

According to Jack W. Langelaan, a professor of Aerospace Engineering at Penn State University, who’s not involved with Reliable Robotics, the company has achieved a significant milestone by completing a flight from hangar to hangar without an on-board pilot.

“There are lots of hard things in robotic aircraft,” he told CNN.

“Two of them are dealing with the unexpected and fitting into the existing air traffic control system.

The unexpected includes things like mechanical and sensor failures.

“We can’t anticipate everything and we need to prove that the robotic ‘pilot’ is at least as competent as a good human pilot.

Fitting into the air traffic control system is also tricky: at the moment it’s managed by humans talking to each other by radio, so Reliable used a remote pilot to manage this aspect of the flight.

And of course, the human remote pilot was also ready to step in to deal with the unexpected.”

Gary Crichlow, head of commercial analysts at consultancy firm AviationValues, agrees that the technology to enable uncrewed operations is impressive.

“That being said, the jump between crewed operations and uncrewed operations on a global scale is an extremely large one,” he cautioned.

“It’s not just about the technology, it’s also about the economics and politics of replacing a highly skilled group of people with that technology.

If anything, I’d expect those barriers to be even more difficult to overcome than the technological hurdles.”

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company.

All rights reserved.

Source: mercurynews

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