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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Microstory 1333: Hillside Sky Courier

Journalism Student: Thank you so much for agreeing to talk to me, High School Dropout. I really appreciate this opportunity. I know a school newspaper isn’t exactly the kind of exposure you’re looking for, but I think my audience will really enjoy reading about someone they went to school with. I, for one, am very excited to learn about what you do.
Drone Service Founder: Thank you, but please, just call me Drone Service Founder.
Journalism Student: Okay, sorry. I didn’t mean to offend.
Drone Service Founder: No, it’s okay. Wadya wanna know?
Journalism Student: First, why don’t you tell me a little bit about what your company does?
Drone Service Founder: Well, I’m not sure we can call it a company just yet. We’re nowhere near making a profit. Right now, we’re in the middle of a major fundraising round. We can’t do anything until we buy our first fleet.
Journalism Student: How big of a fleet are we talking here?
Drone Service Founder: We hope to have thirty drones total by the end of the year.
Journalism Student: How much is that going to cost?
Drone Service Founder: I’m not at liberty to discuss the financial side of our business.
Journalism Student: Right. Well, why is it important to have a fleet? Can you not just get started with one or two drones, and expand from there?
Drone Service Founder: Our future clients will want a reliable service. They don’t want to call us, and be turned away, because we can’t help them at the moment. Even if we contracted with a single company, they would expect deliveries to multiple locations, and we’ll always need to be ready to scale up. It’s all about availability.
Journalism Student: I see. So, I know that it says some of this on your website, but what exactly will you be delivering?
Drone Service Founder: It’s a bit of a misnomer to call us a delivery service. That implies we sell products, and deliver them to customers. We do not sell anything but a service. Here’s how it works. A company will have, let’s say, a hundred people working for them. Let’s say they—no, no, no; scratch that. Let’s say we’re talking about a school district. Yeah, that makes sense here. They have buildings all over the area, right? Let’s say they have fifteen locations; elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, administrative buildings. Those people all need documents to be printed and copied, right? Well, they could hire someone to work at each location, whose job it is to handle only the work those people need. Or they could set up an entire building where all they do is print things for the teachers and administrators. But how do you get all those documents to the end users? You could drive around the city, sure, that’s probably how they do it now. Or you could call us. My drones don’t worry about traffic, or wait at red lights. They zip over everything, and drop what the client needs, where they need it, and most importantly, when they need it. That’s key here. If we can scale up enough, and manage our client base, we can promise deliveries measured in minutes, rather than hours.
Journalism Student: What about the cost to the clients? Will it be worth it for them to hire you, instead of just sticking with however they’re doing it now?
Drone Service Founder: We’re still working on the details, but this will come at an affordable price. Our overhead is lower than you would think, and our labor costs are really low. I’m here with my first investor and partner. We hired someone for legal, and one general laborer. I’ll probably hire a mechanic to maintain the drones themselves, and an accountant to keep us square. Beyond that, we shouldn’t need anyone else. Every company in the city could contract with us, and we won’t likely need to hire too many more people to keep up with it. Automation is key.
Journalism Student: What do you say to people who are already worried about robots taking all their jobs?
Drone Service Founder: I’ll remind them that we’re a new company. You can’t expect us to arbitrarily hire a staff for jobs we don’t have need for. We don’t plan on letting anyone go. Six plus people, and no room for downsizing.
Journalism Student: Wow, that’s interesting. Let me write this down. No room for downsizing.
Drone Service Founder: So, listen, I’m glad you called. I’m hoping I’m not misreading this. Can we go off the record for a moment? I would like to discuss something personal.
Journalism Student: Umm, okay, sure.

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