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.
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.