There are thousands (and probably millions) of things that have shaped me into the person I am today. I also think that there are an equivalent number of things that have shaped SkEye into the company we are today. One of those things or topics is drones.
My first encounter with a drone
The first time I ever heard of a drones being used to carry cinema or film cameras was when I was at Carroll College. I remember sitting in the Campus Ministry office and Dan Thies showed me a video of the Cinebird Oktocopter with a Red Epic camera on it. I wish that I could remember the precise day that this discussion happened, because upon reflection I think that this was the moment that a very important seed was planted (more on that later). That particular video, at the time, was just another cool YouTube video that I watched and then told my friends about later that day over dinner. I’m sure that the following week, it was lost in memory just like all the other random videos we are bombarded with every day. After that, every now and then, the conversation of using a drone to shoot video resurfaced. I would dream and brainstorm all the things I would do with a drone (if I could afford one), and then I would always bring myself back to reality and tell myself that there was no way I could ever justify spending $10,000- $30,000 on a fancy toy. I was an engineer, and I didn’t have time for tangents like that. But, the seed had been planted that is for sure.
Buying my first drone
The next big event in nurturing that seed was when I worked at KPFF in Portland. There had still been talk every once in a while about a friend who had purchased a drone, or of a friend of a friend that built a drone from scratch. One day (I don’t remember who first told me about it) I stumbled across DJI. DJI is a technology company that first created the DJI Phantom. This was pretty much the first consumer drone that utilized GPS and onboard compasses (to make flying the craft easier) AND to include those features on a drone that cost less than $1000.
I decided to purchase my first ever drone on September 5th, 2013 for $679.
At this point in time I had been at KPFF for about 5 months, and the sticker price seemed like a small investment into a gadget that I was thought would be a fun new toy. Shortly after receiving the drone I then purchased a GoPro Hero 3. Then I was out taking aerial photos of my house, our neighbor’s house, me waving at the drone, my school and anything else that I thought might look cool. The crazy dream of starting a production company, started seeming less crazy (Actually, maybe not less crazy, but definitely more feasible).
The beginning of the start-up life
In October, I decided to leave KPFF and begin focusing full-time on starting my own company. Leaving KPFF was on of the hardest things I have ever done. It was scary to walk away from a $55k/year job and go to nothing (I literally had nothing, except an idea at that point.) But, the seed was starting to mature, and there was nothing I could have done then to stop the inevitable from happening. I quit my job in October of 2013. The last paycheck I ever received was on October 16, 2013. The self-employment chapter of my life had started, and I was living in my mom’s attic.
Naming the seedling
I remember that it took me a really long time to come up with a name that I liked (realistically it was more a name that I didn’t dislike), every time that I thought of a cool name I would look it up and see it was already taken. But, eventually I settled on a unique spelling of the word sky. The idea of my new company was hardly developed at all, but I new that we would utilize aerial video and drones to capture awesome footage of events. So with that in mind I called the company SkEye (The pun being that the cameras that were on the drones would be the “Eye” in the Sky). On November 12, 2013 I registered my new business, SkEye Studios, LLC, with the state of Oregon. The seed that had been planted back in 2012 had finally sprouted and SkEye Studios was born.