We had a chat with Dejan from Mainblades, a company that’s on the brink of introducing their revolutionary aircraft inspection technology, using fully-automated drones, to the aviation MRO (maintenance, repair & overhaul) industry. Within the aviation industry, Mainblades is regarded as the next-generation solution provider for aircraft inspections, with the most advanced technology. They have the potential to become a market leader in the field of automated, robotised aircraft inspection using intelligent drones. Find out what type of investors they’re looking to attract, why they chose Leapfunder as their online funding platform and what are their plans for the upcoming months.
1. Hi Dejan, thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Tell us about Mainblades, the idea that got it all started and the amazing team behind it.
We started out with an idea focussed on inspection or cleaning aircraft; back then the idea was much rougher. Also, the method of achieving this automation through robotic means was not a given. As we started working on building the team, the business and the product over the years, we realised that inspections of these very large aeroplanes is done in a very old-fashioned manner. So the idea pivoted towards inspections, and as we progressed further and developed a better and deeper understanding of the market we realised that there are huge operational problems for large commercial airlines caused by unscheduled lightning strikes. So we narrowed the application and formalised the vision of the product that we have right now. At the beginning of the year, we accelerated our commercial efforts and realised that there are applications within the aviation industry which can be solved by using our product; so we are expanding the scope and application of our product.
In a way, this is the journey every startup experiences multiple times during its lifespan; with both high and lows. During the journey, our team has grown in number but more importantly, we have built our company from its inception to a full-fledged business that we have today. In order to do that, you need a well-functioning team and during the process, we have all grown significantly. The milestones that we have so far achieved make me very proud, and I am excited about the future.
2. What problems are you trying to solve? What are the benefits of Mainblades, and why is it a product-market fit?
The problem that we are trying to solve is aircraft inspections. These inspections are at the moment a manual process with no way to record the inspection. An engineer goes around the aircraft with a cherry picker in order to reach the higher areas of an aircraft. The process is time-consuming, there is no way to guarantee that the inspection was complete, no track record in terms of data, a manual inspection requires a hangar environment, and it can be a dangerous affair for both the engineer and the aeroplane.
The benefit of our product is that we generate a complete report of the state of the aircraft. We achieve this by completely automating the inspection process: we use a drone to automatically inspect the hull of the aircraft and after the inspection, we perform damage detection on the collected images.
The applications that we have so far identified with customers are lightning strike inspections, paint inspections, hangar entry inspections and lessor return inspections. All of these inspections are examples of visual inspections of an aircraft, and for each of these inspections, there is significant value for our customers to use our product.
3. How much growth potential do you see for Mainblades and what type of investors are you looking to attract?
We see significant growth over the coming years – as we are only just ready to put our product in the market. The corona crisis has delayed our adoption cycle for at least 6 to 12 months but with the current market traction in the cargo market, we expect that once the world normalises we will be able to scale globally.
We are currently looking for investors interested in deep tech, the aviation industry, robotics and automation. Above all, we’re looking for experienced early-stage investors.
4. You chose Leapfunder as your online funding platform. What makes it the right tool for your startup, and what do you expect from the round?
What we like about Leapfunder is that this is not the first rodeo for them; all the experience Leapfunder has when it comes to raising funding is really beneficial for any startup. The scale of the platform enables us to reach private investors that we couldn’t reach otherwise. These are the two obvious advantages that we have experienced and identified.
5. What are your plans for the upcoming months? Tell us about your go-to-market strategy and the plan to acquire customers.
In the upcoming months, we will be focused on 2 segments of the market in the aviation industry: cargo airlines and aircraft lessors. We learned that both these segments are largely unaffected by the corona crises: the cargo airlines are firing on all pistons as we are collectively all using e-commerce to buy our next TV, and the lessors are seeing a significant uptick in the number of returns and transfers over the coming years due to the corona crisis.
We will build up our revenue stream over the upcoming months from these two segments while also focussing on our long-term strategy. We intend on expanding our relationships with several large commercial airlines to continue and improve the long-term strategy of our company and vision.
Thank you for sharing your story, Dejan! We wish Mainblades the best of luck.
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