Brendan Carroll is secretly a huge nerd. “I love innovation, and technology is an enabler and accelerator of innovation, so you could certainly call me a techie,” says Carroll, founder of Skycision, an agritech startup that combines crop monitoring and drones. “For me, there’s nothing more exciting than challenging the status quo, and then improving upon it.”
It wasn’t until an elective entrepreneurship course taught by a local venture capitalist during his graduate program at Carnegie Mellon that he became intrigued with drone technology. While larger consumer adoption was already in process, Carroll immediately thought the future of drones was in enterprise applications. (or in backdrop to football game’s half-time entertainment.)
Carroll initially sought to apply drone technology to the pharmaceutical industry’s delivery system, particularly for distributing emergency medical goods in rural areas where such supplies are not readily available. But he quickly realized both the logistical and regulatory hurdles. But now more enamored with the use of drones, he did a little more digging and came across a different issue facing Rural America. “Upon further investigation, we found out farmers had some pretty compelling problems and that drones could provide assistance in mitigating a number of the problems that they face on a daily basis.”
Skycision was formed in Pittsburgh, upon graduating with his master’s in Information Systems Management in 2015, and Carroll got to work in learning about both drones and agriculture. ”I did not have a background in agriculture so I did lots of customer discovery and spent dozens of hours over the course of the last couples years in the fields with our clients gaining a better understanding of their problems,” says Carroll. “The worst thing an entrepreneur can do is assume a problem that doesn’t actually exist.”
His idea quickly got attention, first from the National Science Foundation with their $50,000 grant and a spot at a four-month Acceleprise program in San Francisco for pre-seed SaaS startups. The latter part of 2016 was spent in Memphis with the AgLaunch Accelerator program, and he’s since been working with their network of regional growers while working to expand market presence in the region. While his engineering team is based in Pittsburgh, Carroll continues to make inroads in the Southeast. Skycision is currently a fellow of the Delta Entrepreneurship Network, a program of Delta Regional Authority that provides resources, mentorship, and a network for early stage companies with high growth potential.
“We’ve had the chance to meet a lot of other great startups in the region, and with that, have been able to leverage synergies between our businesses in overcoming obstacles,” Carroll says. “Further, the startup ecosystem in the South is gaining traction and by networking w/ other startups and resources in the region, we’re able to help one another get the access to whatever it is one might need to fuel their growth.” At the conclusion of their DEN fellowship, Skycision will be pitching at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March.
Aside from the pitches and networking, Carroll believes 2017 is a year of growth for Skycision. “We’re adding members to the team, scaling our product deployments, and have some pretty ambitious objectives around our growth metrics that I know we can achieve. I think you’ll be hearing a lot more about us as the year goes on, and we’re absolutely enthused to have the opportunity to make a difference.”
And as for his entrepreneurial journey, Carroll says, “The only thing that makes my job better is that we’re solving a real problem for a client base that deeply appreciates the service we provide. It doesn’t get better than that for a B2B entrepreneur.”