Erik Edgington is one of the founders of Nevada Dynamics. Nevada Dynamics “provides the technology infrastructure to integrate existing drone systems into a safe environment where drones can be sent anywhere with the click of a button or swipe of a finger, and data can be immediately uploaded and visualized.” The idea was so impressive in the burgeoning drone field, that Nevada Dynamics was a winner of the prestigious Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, a competition at the University of Nevada that bestows it’s winners with $50,000 dollars of startup. An excerpt of the interview follows:
Reid: What advice would you give to college students who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs?
Erik: Keep grinding. The best piece of advice that I have is that its not all glam and glitz, which is the hard part. You see the Mark Zuckerbergs or the Mark Cubans – it’s exciting and it lures a lot of people. What you don’t see is all the late nights that they have and all of the frustration, all the turmoil — as well as the difficulties of managing people, managing projects, managing development. But stick with it and hopefully you can be a success story or still working towards it as well. I don’t have the perspective to say, you know, I have been there and done it; I’m still grinding away and we like what we are doing and we feel we have a good shot at making a play on a good part of this market.
The best piece of advice that I have is that its not all glam and glitz, which is the hard part.
R: What’s your process for idea generation?
E: So on a personal level it is all about solving a problem. If you can find a problem and if there is a possibility of a business being built around it. Just walking around the world around you and keeping your eyes and ears open for issues that people are having; there is probably some kind of benefit that adds value to their life.
On the side of Nevada Dynamics, it is definitely problem based, but we have looked at it more in terms of more of a market specific base. So we have taken all of these different use cases – okay drones can be used for this and this – all these different things we have gone through and say “okay in order to use a drone for search and rescue what functions do we need? Okay you need this, this and this.” Then we look at what market segments are most viable right now. Is delivery the most viable market right now? Not really. Its really figuring out who our customer is and who we want our customer to be. What do we need to do to make their drone use happen? Getting our functionality and ideas is really customer driven for us.
If you can find a problem and if there is a possibility of a business being built around it.
R: What would you say is your biggest failure?
E: Our Biggest failure I believe is product creep and pivoting. Again, it’s a failure and success. We have struggled to stay focused on one good idea; which people did tell us we were going to struggle with in the beginning. I think that was a little bit due to our inexperience as entrepreneurs and really just trying to figure out what the drone industry was doing. We have gone to a lot of these conferences and we have done a ton of research, so I think its a little bit of we needed to find our own and we needed to see where we could fit. It’s really understandable however because we have new pieces of information that influenced our views and with each new piece of information, we get a better idea of the direction we should be moving in. Really if we don’t pivot, we probably fail.
R: What have you learned about leadership and management from running your startup?
E: I think the biggest thing that I have learned is everybody has a different personality so you can’t take the one style fits all to management. We are at a disadvantage as well because most of our people aren’t getting paid. You are managing people that just want to be there. You have a title over them, which doesn’t mean anything because we are all in the trenches together. Really I feel like it has been more working together rather than managing and I think that has been the biggest thing that I have learned – you have to understand where everyone is coming from, where they are at in their life and what they have going on, and adjust your style accordingly. I think just trying to keep the morale up is also huge especially when you have guys who are just working for sweat equity and they are just cranking away. That’s been the most challenging part: inspiring the vision and continually renewing inspiration in the vision and getting everybody pumped back up and moving on the same page.
You have to understand where everyone is coming from, where they are at in their life and what they have going on, and adjust your style accordingly.
R: What do you think is the major difference between entrepreneurs and someone that works for someone else?
E: I think the biggest difference between an entrepreneur and someone more interested in having a 9-5 job is the risk to reward. I think that entrepreneurs are interested in creating something huge. The difference would have to be the creative side of things and the ability to create and make something happen. At the end of the day you can be like “that is mine, I created that.” And if it works that was on me and if doesn’t work that’s on me as well; you really have to be able to do both. I think you’ll see a lot of entrepreneurs are naturally competitive as well: its that willing and want to win and make it to the next level.
R: How do you spend your time outside of business?
E: I like to do something that can take my mind off of business. You are so immersed in it all the time that it gets hard to escape. One of the things that I have found recently that I enjoy is rock climbing. For me it is a great way to escape my own head because when I’m on the wall I can’t think of much else or I fall; its almost like a forced relaxation. I also enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and girlfriend to help me get away.
If you are interested in participating in Nevada Dynamic’s upcoming Beta, information for applying can be found on their website: www.nevadadynamics.com
Reid Lunceford is the Marketing Coordinator at the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org