Adam Fine is co-founder of Dropcopter which uses unmanned aerial systems to pollinate orchards. In this interview in Syracuse.com he offers some thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur.
Adam moved to Syracuse from San Francisco (ouch) in December 2017 for the second year of the GENIUS NY program (see previous blogs), a business accelerator and competition geared to startups in unmanned vehicle technologies.
Companies accepted in the program take up residence in Syracuse at The Tech Garden. Among other things, they receive mentoring, office space and amenities, workshops and training, opportunities for networking, and compete for a $1 million investment.
Fotokite won last year’s $1 million investment. Dropcopter secured a $250,000 investment. The latest round of five GENIUS NY finalists was announced in December 2018.
Fine had trained in culinary school and established his career in San Francisco restaurants when a paralyzing motorcycle crash in 2011 sent his life in another direction.
Give me the elevator speech for Dropcopter.
Dropcopter is the first autonomous pollination system using unmanned aerial systems. We use drone aircraft to pollinate orchards when the flowers bloom. We increase fruit and nut set in almonds, cherries, and apples as well as the corresponding yield.
We were the first in the world to do this.
We conducted tests on apples in New York. We’re increasing the size, the color, and the consistency of the apples. With almonds, we’re increasing yield by 10 percent and the sets by as much as 60 percent.
When was Dropcopter founded?
Dropcopter started as a completely different business. It was my failed attempt to deliver food and beverages on golf courses. It was blocked by the FAA. Then a number of larger companies released marketing material claiming they were going to do it, so I quickly got out.
About that time, I met my business partner, Matt Koball. He’s an olive farmer. He recognized that drones were as valuable as I thought they were, but maybe agriculture was a better environment to use them. He was right, so we developed a way to use a drone to pollinate. Growers he talked to consistently expressed that bees were getting expensive and scarce. There was a market for a viable alternative.
Matt handles California. I handle New York. Mike Winch is our other partner. He joined us in 2018 and handles Washington state.
What advice would you give to succeed in business?
You need to build a team of people that are better than you are at all the things that you need to get done.
A business is an extension of you, but it’s also an extension of the people you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with the most competent people that are all working toward that same goal, you will have a successful business.
If you are intimidated by a hire than you should not be a leader.
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