November 11 2020

Celebrating Skydio’s Veterans

Mark Cranney

On this Veteran’s Day, we are taking the time to reflect on and appreciate the honor, courage, and sacrifice exemplified by all current and former members of the US Armed Forces. At Skydio, our growing team is blessed to include veterans from every branch of the US Military, with over 100 combined years of service, and 50+ deployments across all theaters of conflict in the 21st century. Our veterans remind us at Skydio that we are performing an important mission when we serve Defense organizations — to protect American service members by providing tools that enhance situational awareness, and enable troops on the ground to make the most informed decisions in real-time.

In the past few months, we have made significant progress in our plans to service defense customers. We have earned the designation of trusted drone provider (https://medium.com/skydio/skydio-selected-as-a-trusted-drone-provider-for-us-federal-government-in-defense-innovation-units-6bd460137bcd) for the US Department of Defense with the selection to DIU’s Blue sUAS program, we listed X2D aircraft on the GSA Schedule and announced ADS as a reseller and contracting partner for Skydio’s public sector sales.

Since announcing the upcoming availability of the X2D, we’ve seen incredible interest from federal and defense agencies. Customers who have tried the platform in our hands-on demos around the country are blown away by the capabilities. Next week, we’ll be sharing a great video series that will give a feel for it showing the X2D in real-life defense scenarios filmed with trained military operators in a simulated environment. Here is a short teaser!

Today, though, I’d like to especially thank and celebrate some of the veterans building their civilian careers at Skydio, and shed some light on the impact they have had on all of us.

Everyday Veterans remind us of the importance of service to our country

Skydio protects the warfighter by providing situational awareness in hostile environments.

At Skydio, we build the world’s most advanced AI-powered autonomous drones right here in the US. We believe autonomy is the key to unlock a fundamentally simpler and safer flight experience that minimizes the cognitive load on the operator. As a result, soldiers gain more accurate, real-time information without being distracted from their mission, even in the most challenging environments. Chuck McGraw, Skydio’s Head of Public Sector Sales, who served eleven combat deployments as a Navy SEAL, shared many more details in this webinar, demonstrating how Skydio X2D gives warfighters a tactical edge to improve mission success and reduce risk.

As the leading American drone manufacturer, we understand the importance of providing a trustworthy, secure solution. Foreign-made drones have been shown to introduce security vulnerabilities to government networks and field operations. It is unthinkable to us that defense agencies should have to trade off cybersecurity for operator safety. We will continue to provide American designed, assembled, and supported solutions for our forces overseas.

Skydio’s veterans are valued team members

Numerous veterans are now launching exemplary civilian careers at Skydio.

There are countless reasons why every industry should be working hard to employ veterans, but for us it comes down to this: they understand the use cases, they understand the customer’s processes, and they bring the best of American values to your business operations and team culture.

They have been there. Our veterans understand better than anyone what the warfighter is going through when they are in situations requiring drones. Look no further than our Solutions Engineer, Dylan Hamm (see Dylan’s blog here). Dylan is a former Navy SEAL with seven combat deployments, who served as a Tactical UAS Trainer, and Special Applications R&D Lead. He has helped to pioneer real-world tactical use applications in a wide range of challenging environments. When a defense agency works with Skydio on the technical requirements and solutions for their warfighters’ needs, they’ll get to work with one of the world’s leading experts.

Our veterans understand both the warfighter and the procurement process.

They know how to assist customers from evaluation to procurement. Our veterans are deeply familiar with the complexity of the government’s procurement processes. We have built a public sector team with the experience to navigate these processes efficiently. In his 20 years as a SEAL Team leader, Chuck McGraw held the positions of Assault Squadron Operations Chief, Basic Training Command Operations Chief, Master Training Specialist, Senior Program Manager, and Assault Team Leader. He has worked on multi-million dollar projects developing and transitioning new technologies from the private sector into government in support of mission-critical capability requirements. Similarly, former Marine Corps officer Justin Jordan now serves as Federal Account Manager after a successful career serving government customers as a DoD Protection Account Executive at Dell EMC. In his twenty-five years of law enforcement with the Department of Homeland Security, Ron Bellavia gained experience as a field agent, special operations commander, operational division chief, and strategic leader. His experience in domestic incident response and coordination of international missions provides insight on best practices to any level of public sector organizations. When a defense agency is ready to build its operation into a sustainable program, our team knows how to help when the rubber meets the road.

They bring strong values to our business operations. Our veterans exemplify the best of us as American citizens and Skydio employees. They bring key values like accountability, dedication, and a team-first attitude to the workplace, helping to create a strong company culture. That’s why our veterans are some of our most accomplished business operators. Former Green Beret Trent Hall, our VP of Channel and Alliances, and Navy SEAL Sai Williams, Federal Sector Account Manager, both hold MBAs from Stanford University. Former Army Captain Alden Jones, Sr. Director of Customer Success, built one of the largest enterprise drone programs on the planet at The American Tower Corporation. Former Air Force Captain Brendan Groves, Head of Regulatory and Policy Affairs, holds a JD from Yale Law School and joined Skydio after leading the U.S. Department of Justice’s drone program and helping to shape national drone policy as a member of the FAA UAS Executive Committee. Former Air Force Captain Brian Carpenter, Technical Program Manager, manufacturing all generations of Skydio vehicles, R1, Skydio2, X2, and beyond. Former Army Reservist John Sepeda, Customer Support Representative, served for 8 years and deployed to Afghanistan providing Convoy Security. Before Skydio, he worked at Apple and Citibank in customer support and fraud prevention.

As you can tell, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about the Team we are building at Skydio. Strong people are just as important as a strong tech and our veterans will play a critical role in growing our company and, through their expertise, bring incredible value to our customers.