Columbia Entrepreneurs: Aptonomy Uses Drones to Reinforce the Weakest Link in Security Operations

For many of us, the only time we encounter drones is when someone flies one through our picnic at Dolores Park, but drones are not toys. If you don’t work in the industry, it might surprise you to learn that some of the most important and popular uses for drones are in the area of security.

Over the past few years, many industries have come to rely on drones to patrol places that humans can’t easily reach, or scan areas too large for humans to reasonably cover. In this way, enterprises have adopted the use of drones to increase efficiency and improve security. Understandably, a new wave of startups have emerged to fill this niche.

One such company is Aptonomy, offering drone security services that use artificial intelligence to automate the system. Aptonomy is one of five companies presenting at the 4th Annual Columbia Startup Demo Night in San Francisco and competing for a cash prize on September 20, 2018. We caught up with co-founder John Daniels to learn more.

John Daniels, co-founder of Aptonomy

CVC: In just a couple of sentences, what does Aptonomy do?

John Daniels: Aptonomy develops smart drone-based security systems for outdoor properties. We focus on artificial intelligence (AI) that automates perimeter security — often the weakest link in enterprise security operations.

You offer a “turnkey drone-based security service.” Why is this important and who are your primary customers?

Our turnkey solution allows customers to reap the benefit of aerial technologies without any upfront fixed costs (such as purchasing equipment, hiring pilots, obtaining FAA airspace waivers, and so on). This is important because it allows our customers to receive immediate ROI and gain organizational buy-in quickly.

Our primary market is finished vehicle (new car) logistics security. Before a new automobile arrives at the dealership for sale, it will have been transported thousands of miles from the manufacturing plant and stored at numerous outdoor holding lots along the way.

Every vehicle (all 17 million of them in the USA every year) is at risk for theft and vandalism during these intermediate stages of transport. We are able to protect these auto assets with 10x the efficiency of traditional methods such as a human patrol guards or fixed cameras.

Secondly, through our Aerial Asset Tracking technology, we can provide daily inventory reconciliation reports that catch discrepancies before they become an expensive problem.

How have your experiences at Columbia, or the community you gained while there, contributed to where you’re at now?

I was Columbia College, class of ’13. I took several project based classes that were useful in developing a framework to bring novel ideas to market including: The Lean LaunchPad at Columbia Business School taught by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf, and Principles of Innovation and Entrepreneurship taught by William Reinisch and Yechiam Yemini.

Where can we learn more about Aptonomy?

You can find Aptonomy here and on Facebook.

Here’s a video demo that we did with Mountain View Police Department, showing drone patrols at Shoreline Amphitheater Music Festival:

And here’s a video testimonial from one of our customers, discussing his experience and all the advantages drone technologies were able to bring to his operation in San Francisco:

Thanks John! See you at Demo Night.

To meet the Aptonomy team, plus four other innovative startups, come to the 4th Annual CVC Demo Night in San Francisco! It’s the biggest event for Columbia entrepreneurs on the West Coast. Get tickets and details here.

— Irene Malatesta is a writer, marketer, and CVC West board member. You can find her @irenekaoru.

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