In June 2016, Antoine Balaresque, Upstart startup Lily Robotics co-founder and CEO Lily Robotics, standing in front of a room of business students at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, is ready to reveal the PowerPoint slides that have made him turn to into an instant startup celebrity. Wearing a popular Silicon Valley uniform consisting of a T-shirt and jeans, he appears a bit plump, with messy hair and a masculine face still rounded on his cheeks. He seemed self-conscious about being arrested by the business school students’ bureaus.
The Presentations started like most Balaresque talk, with Lily Drone commercials video: A slick video showing the drone plunging through the air, documenting the user embarking on a series of outdoor adventures. When the video ended, Balaresque began telling the story of the origin of his “flying camera”. It started in 2013, with a family trip to Yosemite National Park in which Balaresque’s mother took a group photo. His mother, he say, always standing behind the camera, so “she missed all of these memories.” His mother’s absence in the shot inspired him to create a selfie drone – the Lily Drone – that is portable and easy for novices like his mother, use.
There are plenty of drones with cameras on the market, but together with co-founder Henry Bradlow, Balaresque created a product with a unique attribute. “It flies by itself,” Balaresque said to the Haas crowd. Using a combination of GPS tracking and image recognition, the couple designed camera drones to track users wherever they are – just like magic, without the need for remote controls. . It is lightweight and portable, designed for both novice travelers and heavy adventurers.
Balaresque is his story lead firmly, and it looks like his company is going up the ladder. Last year, Lily Drone fascinated Silicon Valley and beyond. In 2016, Wall Street Journal put it on List of products “That will change your life.” Balaresque and Bradlow are in Luck‘S 30 Under 30. Facebook was buzzing with excitement and people eager to pre-order $ 499, imagining drones on family travel and ski adventures.
Only a few months after this presentation, in January 2017, the titles changed. “Start the drone suddenly turned off. “”Was Lily Robotics the Theranos of Airplane World?“Lily Drone is now” inflated “,” crashing “and” failing “. Customers who pre-order complaints about their losses on the internet. Those who have not ordered gloating. In early 2017, the company declared bankruptcy and sued by the San Francisco district attorney’s office to promote false advertising based on claims that the promotional video – the same video that caused the applause less than a year ago – is fake. The DA’s office accused the founders of publicizing a product they knew could not be produced within the advertised timeframe.
More than 60,000 Lily customers are still waiting for their drones. But is Lily Drone, as the titles suggest, is it all a hoax? Lily Robotics orbit is a warning story for young and adventurous people who are fascinated by the latest technological dreams. Even though 3D printers have revolutionized home production, there’s still something incredibly tough about launching a sleek drone phalanx without experience and expertise. Lily’s story is about two ambitious college students with wits and personalities who want to change the world – or at least photography. But they didn’t have the right tools and didn’t listen to who did.
The story of Lily Drone started at the University of California, Berkeley, where Balaresque and Bradlow are students. As a teenager in France, Balaresque was inspired to apply to UC Berkeley by a classmate’s cousin. At Berkeley, he was exposed to science and robotics for the first time – a fascination reinforced when, as a Business Administration student, he met co-founder Henry Bradlow, another student is studying computer science.
The duo arrived in Berkeley at a difficult time. Where Stanford University has dominated the Palo Alto tech scene since its inception, Berkeley has largely failed to create the famous kind of startup wunderkinds that flood the Bay area. When the couple arrived on campus in 2010, the university was increasingly investing in seed funds and student-run startup competitions to try to create more entrepreneurial incentives on the campus. full of free spirit.