Three years ago at the Inaugural StartUp MHK pitch competition at Peoples State Bank, Kestrel Drone and Mapping Solutions gave their pitch to the panel of judges, hoping for a chance at the money.
This year, after pitching in all three years of the competition’s existence, the team at Kestrel Drone took home the grand prize of $8,000 for the technical category.
“We were relieved when we heard our company name announced as the winner! A lot of work went into the preparation,” CTO Jim Jones said. “We had to push really hard to polish the pitch and we were constantly fighting the feeling that maybe we should just spend that time focusing on actual work IN the business.”
Kestrel Drone and Mapping Solutions is a fully licensed and insured drone and mapping services company with over 20 years in the mapping industry. “We have been in the UAV (drone) business for over 2 years, and we have started Kestrel as a means to bring our services to you.” Services include aerial photography, thermal inspections, engineering and construction measurements, and 3D property modeling.
Each fall when StartUp MHK comes around, the team at Kestrel Drone and Mapping Solutions gets involved. “We continued to improve and iterate. Year after year, we keep getting closer to what we really are. The improvement wasn’t just in the pitch, it was in our focus as a company. The improvement in the pitch was a byproduct of that. We also learned to ask for help. We highly recommend engaging the Washburn Small Business Development Center.”
MHK Business News: “What will the money be used for?”
CTO Jim Jones: “We need to bolster our production speed. We’ll be spending part of the money in the coming months on improving our lab. Currently, we have three 3D printers, a laser cutter and a CNC machine. We hope to try our hand on a bit of injection molding as well – for parts where this method makes more sense. Besides the improvements in our lab, we’re also looking to add another intern to help with production. We were lucky to find Joshua at the KSU Polytechnic career fair a couple of years ago. We’ll be hosting a booth at the one on October 30 keeping an eye open for talent.”
MHK Business News: “Why start this business in Manhattan?”
CTO Jim Jones: “Manhattan has a super business culture. There is an amazing talent pool with KSU being here. And we absolutely love the Flint Hills!”
MHK Business News: “How was your experience overall competing in StartUp MHK?”
CTO Jim Jones: “The organizers of StartUp MHK are nothing short of stellar. Everything was in order. Nobody had to guess about when they should be doing what. The contest runs like a well-oiled machine. We were, as was everyone else, treated really well. Everyone involved made us feel welcome and appreciated.”
MHK Business News: “Would you encourage others to compete next year and why?”
CTO Jim Jones: “Absolutely. The process of honing your story into a 4-minute blurb that is clear and concise enough to win will give you so much clarity about your business. Even if you don’t win, you will not regret the effort you put into the pitch. It forces one to spend time working ON their business rather than just IN it.”