Dronamics Profile

Dronamics logo.

Dromanics is a mobility startup boasting the world’s first drone cargo airline.  

Founder(s): Svilen Rangelov, Konstantin Rangelov

Industry: Mobility

Founded in: 2014

Location: United Kingdom, Europe

Interview With Svilen Rangelov

Describe your product or service & the problem it’s solving:

“Dronamics is the world’s first cargo drone airline. Our ultimate goal is to enable same-day delivery for everyone, everywhere. Our Black Swan cargo drone enables same-day delivery to even the most remote areas up to 80% faster, at up to 50% lower cost, and with 60% less CO2 emissions than traditional transportation methods.”

How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!

“Every startup begins with a lightbulb moment. Dronamics’ story began with a piece of cheese! When Konstantin (the youngest brother) was studying aerospace engineering in the Netherlands, Svilen was back in their native Bulgaria following his studies in Economics in the US. Konstantin was dwelling on the thing he missed most about his home country — Bulgarian cheese. So Svilen told Konstantin something like, ‘I’m not coming all the way to the Netherlands to bring you some cheese again. You’re the engineer, you figure it out.’ With his aerospace engineering hat on, Konstantin set to work: How can you get an object, whether it’s a piece of cheese or a crucial piece of equipment or medicine, from one side of the continent to the other in the most efficient way possible? 

The concept of drones was nothing new in 2014: people were already talking about last-mile delivery drones that could drop packages on your doorstep, but Konstantin knew there was no way a small, lightweight drone could withstand the distance: nor could this single package delivery be in any way cost-effective. So, he came up with the design of the Black Swan cargo drone, which has the capacity of a small delivery van (up to 350kg/770lbs) but which can travel up to 2,500 km (1,500 miles) in hours for a fraction of the price of other modes of transport.”

How is your startup funded, and what advice do you have for other founders seeking funding?

“Since launching, Dronamics has raised over $40 million from venture capital funds and angel investors from 12 countries in pre-Series A; but money’s not always been readily available. One major lesson learned from fundraising is the importance of having a clear vision and mission for the business that is based on market needs. Another key factor is having a strong team with the right skills and experience to execute on that vision.”

How big is your team, and what qualities do you look for when hiring new employees?

“Our team of over 170 people brings together entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals with an extensive background in aerospace, aviation, automotive, technology, and consulting. As founders, it’s important to build a strong team with complementary skills-sets who can see things differently from yourself and from everyone else out there.”

Who is your target market? How did you determine this, and what strategies did you use to reach and engage them?

“The extra-urban cargo drone market is projected to reach €24 billion by 2035 driven by several factors, such as the fact that conventional ground delivery is often delayed by logistical challenges and, because airplanes are expensive to build and operate —and designed for passengers, not cargo— the cost of air freight can be prohibitive for smaller businesses or the final consumer. By establishing new direct routes, Dronamics serves a multitude of industries, especially those requiring time-critical delivery times, such as: ecommerce, healthcare & pharma (medicines, vaccines), perishables (food, flowers), engineering and automotive (spare parts), humanitarian aid, mining.”

What’s your primary marketing strategy?

“As a startup, we have focused on an earned, owned, and social PR and communications strategy that is helping us build and position the brand with the right audiences.”

What has been your most successful marketing campaign, and why do you think it worked so well?

“We recently announced the successful first flight of our cargo drone aircraft, the Black Swan, with a content and social media strategy that has generated wide interest and important leads for the business.”

What do you consider to be your company’s biggest competitive advantage, and how do you maintain it?

“Our business model is unique — we sell capacity in our drones rather than aircraft, similar to a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) model. We are also the only cargo airline in the world with a license to operate in Europe. Therefore, we are the only company that offers an all-in-one solution for middle-mile logistics, powered by our long-range, high payload aircraft that is built specifically for cargo.”

What were the biggest challenges you faced in the early stages of building your startup, and how did you overcome them?

“To stretch the first money that the founders received from accelerators: €25,000, the founders decided that the funds would go a lot further in their home country, Bulgaria. But while Eastern Europe already had a growing reputation for software businesses, there was limited innovation on the hardware side: so, they really had to work hard to prove the naysayers wrong.”

What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?

“Entrepreneurship is all about risk-taking on a daily basis. The guidance you can receive by surrounding yourself with the right advisers and team members can really help inform critical decisions.”

What is your #1 piece of advice for startup founders?

“Believe in your vision, work hard, isolate the noise, and focus on what you do best.”

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