In business, the sky is the limit for Big Sky Aerial Technology—literally. This start-up company captures high-resolution aerial images for use in precision agriculture, allowing farmers to analyze the health of their crops.
Founded in 2015 by Ron Lester and Jerred Lane, the idea to launch Big Sky Aerial Technology was inspired by the years Lester and Lane spent working with land and air-based remote sensing technologies in the Middle East.
“With some of the most amazing technologies being implemented for war, we wanted to take some of what we learned and work with it here at home,” Lester said.
But as the two started working on the business, they quickly realized that while they had plenty of experience on the technical side, they would need some help on the business side. That’s when they turned to Chamber affiliate the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center, where they enrolled in its LEADING EDGE business planning course.
“We can honestly say that in starting a business, we were lost in all the business formalities,” Lester said. While Lane and Lester have over 35 years of combined experience in aviation and engineering, when it came to actually starting the business and writing a business plan Lane says, “We had a long ways to go.”
“You have to have a solid product that you understand and is in demand within your market range,” Lane said. Lester and Lane are confident there is a demand for their product – which will both save the farmer money and reduce the amount of unnecessary chemicals into soils. Currently only five percent of farmers use this type of technology and interest in precision farming is continuing to build among the agriculture community. “Our customer base is out there,” Lane said. “[They’re] just waiting to have a system like ours that delivers a world-class product.”
Lane and Lester are in the process of laying out a well-defined business approach so they can “build a long-term sustainable business with a successful future,” Lester said. “While we are still encountering challenges along the way, with the help of the Denver SBDC we are able to overcome unexpected obstacles and continue on towards our goal of Big Sky Aerial Technology being a leader in the remote sensing industry.”
While taking the 11-week LEADING EDGE business planning course course, they purchased their first aircraft, fine-tuned their brand and market position and continued working on sensor design and software processing. They plan to start doing business this summer.
“The next few years are going to be very promising for us,” Lane said. “Precision farming is the way of the future and we intend to help it get there.”