About this episode
Jonathan Evans was an air ambulance helicopter pilot when he started to think about how drones could safely navigate the sky around him. Commercial pilots had rules of the sky, but there were no guidelines for drones despite companies from Amazon to Walmart beginning to experiment with using drones.
Evans decided to start a software company called Skyward with a vision to create the “rules of the air” for drones, laying out a set of “digital train tracks” to bring order to the chaos beginning to emerge above us.
Evans eventually raised $8 million from various investors, including from telecommunications giant Verizon’s venture capital arm. Verizon knew intelligent drones would need to be connected to the internet to use Skyward software, so they were keen to own a piece of Evan’s company.
Verizon was so desperate to control Skyward that when Evans received a call from aerospace giant Airbus about a possible collaboration, Verizon dispatched their corporate development team within hours to turn their investment into an outright acquisition of Skyward.
Evan’s story has a lot of entertaining twists and turns through which you will learn:
- About the hype cycle and why you want to sell before it ends
- How to test the loyalty of your COO
- Why feeling a sense of “imposter’s syndrome” is typical for founders
- What a “bridge to the middle of the lake” investment is
- Why you should never negotiate with a corporate development representative from a Fortune 500 company
- Why Evans uses the word “sociopath” to describe some professional investors
During the interview, Evans described the fateful moment when he realized it was better to take Verizon’s acquisition offer rather than go it alone. He recognized that their proposal was the best he was likely to get for a long while. If you’re wondering whether it’s time to consider selling, get your PREScore™, which will evaluate how personally ready you are to exit when the time comes.
Check out the written by John Warrillow on Why The Value Of Your Business Goes Back To The Future.
Curious about what your company might be worth? Start with a Built to Sell Valuation.
About Our Guest
Jonathan is the CEO of KinectAir, a brand new private charter operator in the USA and soon Europe. KinectAir will deliver a flexible on-demand flight network that will democratize frictionless, safe, and direct air travel. KinectAir is saving people the time and hassle of using major hub airports, by using turboprop aircraft and elegant software to access thousands of underutilized airfields. Meaning accessible flights closer to where passengers need to be. Jonathan is a lifelong aviator, starting out as the youngest helicopter pilot in the US Army for a time and progressing into Life Flight services, where he honed his entrepreneurial skills in property alongside saving lives. At that time, Jonathan saw that drones were going to be an incredible tool but that they had to co-exist with established airspaces. He used his vision to set up 5G ‘skyways’ for safe drone services and operations in the regulated airspace we all know today. This company was Skyward, the drone software company he sold to Verizon in February 2017. Jonathan sits on NASA’s Urban Air Mobility industrial round table, looking at the next generation of personal air mobility and loves nothing more than discussing how advanced air mobility is going to evolve in the next decade and beyond!