SkySpecs wins Accelerate Michigan, spot at Techstars incubator

Third time turned out to be the charm for SkySpecs. It took the Ann Arbor-based drone startup three tries at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition before it won it all and a hefty payday to go with it.

SkySpecs first participated in Accelerate Michigan's student competition in 2012 when the startup was being launched by some University of Michigan students. It took third place in the student portion that year. It came back again in 2013 and made the semifinals of Accelerate Michigan. This year it went all the way and took home $500,000 in seed capital.

"The biggest things for us is it's going to really accelerate our product development," says Danny Ellis, CEO of SkySpecs. "It will enable us to do what we need to do to get our project out into the world and hire more people."

SkySpecs is developing aerial drones that use artificial intelligence to inspect infrastructure in dangerous locations, such as the blade of wind turbines. It's WingMan platform allows the aircraft to hover near an object without fear of hitting it. Check out a demonstration company’s WingMan technology here.

SkySpecs has hired two people (business development and computer programer) over the last year, expanding its staff to nine employees. Those nine people are currently working in New York City at the Techstars incubator. The company plans to wrap up its tour there and return to Michigan by February when it hopes to have 10 prototypes working in the field.

"We thought (Techstars) was going to help us to take it to the next level," Ellis says. "They have the right network and the right skill set."

Source: Danny Ellis, CEO of SkySpecs
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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