What’s Next For Me: Saving Lives With SUAS

When Gordon Folkes III first approached me about joining Archer First Response Systems, I had a lot of questions. I had met Gordon through a hackathon in 2017, and I knew his company was working on delivering life-saving AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) to cardiac arrest victims via unmanned aerial vehicles. I brushed shoulders with him at Orlando events from time to time, and he shared about what he was working on at the Orlando IoT Meetup last year. Still, I wasn’t quite familiar with what had been happening with Archer since then, and while the idea of joining a startup working on life-saving technology was definitely enticing, I wanted to know how viable this concept was before doing so.

The winners of the Orlando Smartest City Challenge, Justin Wells, Florin Lucha, Gordon Folkes III, and Jared Porcenaluk.
(from left): Justin Wells, Florin Lucha, Gordon Folkes III, Jared Porcenaluk, after winning the Orlando Smartest City Challenge hackathon in August of 2017.

So, I asked a ton of questions. First rule of joining any startup: is there funding? I do have a mortgage to pay, after all, and until we figure out that whole immortality thing, I still need to eat. Yes, there’s funding. Ok, well…

  • How many cardiac arrest victims are there?
  • How does this compare to ambulances?
  • How will people know to use the AED?
  • How far can the drone go?
  • Oh, drone is a loaded word. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle? No? Small Unmanned Aircraft System? Will people know what that is?
  • So how far can the sUAS go?
  • How will you know where to send it?
  • How will people know to ask for it?
  • Why not use AEDs from a local building?
  • What competitors are in the space?
  • How will this make money?
  • Where do you see the company in three to five years?
  • What’s the technology stack look like?
  • What challenges are you running into?
  • What’s the biggest obstacle to success?
  • Can I work in my pajamas from time to time?

I didn’t ask that last question, but thankfully it’s turned out I can work in my pajamas from time to time. Remember, kids, the code doesn’t care what you wear. For all the other questions, I got satisfactory answers from Gordon as well as Spencer Hehl, CTO. From him, I learned about their technology stack and the technical challenges that they’ve overcome as well as the ones coming down the pipe. The challenges form a technological playground that spans software, scaling, the cloud, and the edge, all within an environment that requires certainty and security unlike many others.

So, I did it. I had (and continue to have) more questions, but ultimately I knew that if they knew all the answers they wouldn’t need me. I joined.

And after being there for three weeks, it’s what I had hoped for. It’s solving problems quickly, moving fast and light, and also continuing to bootstrap a system that can be relied on, with a team that believes in the possible. I’m applying all of the knowledge I’ve gained at New Signature (née Nebbia) to give us the best chance of success as a company. While all of the details are a little hush-hush, I promise I’ll be updating you with more soon, and it will be worth the wait. I’ve seen this thing in action, and it’s incredibly impressive.

↓ I'll get a dopamine hit if you share this post