Meet Our Startup of the Year Competition Semifinalists: Botlink

September 22, 2015

9:00 am

From apps to hardware, to KickStarter successes and international startups, we’re inching closer to finding out who will take home the title of Startup of the Year at our annual Celebrate Conference in October. Among the dozens of participants that applied for the online competitions, only a few progressed into the semifinals.

Climbing the ranks for our Fargo Region, Botlink was one of two semifinal winners. If they come out on top, Botlink can expect prizes and support from Tech Wildcatters, 500Startups, Consumer Electronics Association, Crowdfunder, Techstars, American Airlines, and more!

In order to get a better understanding about what they do and how they are preparing for Celebrate, we sat down with Botlink’s Marketing Manager Alec Winmill to hear about their journey to get to Celebrate.

Tech.Co: Since launch, what was the most challenging part of gaining market traction?

Alec Winmill: There have been a few tough hurdles to jump, but we’ve found ways around most of them. The first is assembling a team of quality developers here in North Dakota. It’s not that we don’t have talent, we just don’t have enough of it. Finding creative ways to get top notch software engineers on board has been one of our strong suits. The second rough spot is FAA regulations.

People are hesitant to adopt to new technology, especially when there are some potentially negative connotations. Our COO and cofounder, Shawn, has been speaking to groups recently on how drones can be used for good. The last hurdle has been our competition in Silicon Valley – they get plenty of press and have raised tons of money. They also have a larger talent pool to draw from thanks to nearby universities. Our answer is a strong aviation background with high end technology with an incredible team – we have super stars in every role here at Botlink.

Tech.Co: What was the road like leading up to your initial pitch for the competition? Did you do anything in particular to rally your fans?

Winmill: Of course! We reached out to personal friends and family as well as business colleagues and area universities who we’ve worked with to encourage their votes for the competition. Our social followers were especially good to us during voting.

Tech.Co: Is this your first startup or have you all been part of others in the past?

Winminll: For the most part, our team is made up of fresh faces to the startup scene. Our founders are military pilots and sensor operators and the rest of us left the world of bigger, corporate businesses to create something incredible.

Tech.Co: How are you all prepping for the big semi-finals competition next month?

Winmill: The semi-finals are right before a big UAV show that we’ll be exhibiting at in Las Vegas. Luckily, we’ll already be there! Lots of practice on our pitch, lots of polishing our app and lots of excited team members will bring us to the top of the competition.

Tech.Co: What kind of drone do you fly?

Winmill: Our app helps users fly both multirotor (quadcopters, octocopters, etc.) and fixed wing drones fly. Our testing (and just for fun) flights almost always feature both multirotor and fixed wings. Here’s a video of our cofounders Alex Kube and Shawn Muehler flying a fixed wing:

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Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world. He also runs a non-profit, Digital District, which focuses on improving professional digital literacy in DC. You can contact him by email at elliot(@)elliotvolkman.com or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.

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