More often than not, being an entrepreneur means being keen, being flat-out driven to work and engage in business.
And these days, those who discover that deep drive for business are getting younger and younger.
Connor Steinwascher, who founded his first company, the drone-focused Aerial Coverage, just last year at age 21, is one of those entrepreneurs.
“I started working when I was 12 years old,” he recalls. “The minute I started learning about business I wanted to know what business was all about.
“I started out in the restaurant industry, then worked at a sports facility where I became a manager at 16.
“I also tried my hand at DJing, but I was never really that good so that didn’t last,” he says with a laugh.
“I dropped out of college after my first semester and told myself, ‘If I do this, I have to make my way on my own.’
“So I basically just kept working my way through different jobs, in management roles in different companies, all the way up until the fall of 2017.”
Flying Into the Future
That date has special significance for Connor, as that was when he finally decided to end a nine-month-long tenure as a full-time tech specialist at a school district to build Aerial Coverage.
The idea for a full-service drone company took root in his mind way before that, however.
While at a festival organized by a production company for which he was working, he suddenly had strong desire to see what his designs looked like from the sky.
“It looked cool from the stage, but I wanted to see more than that,” he explains.
“So I went out, bought a drone, and flew it late in the night. That was when I first learned that you weren’t actually allowed to fly drones at night,” he chuckles.
When he moved on to working at the school district, he devoted most of his free time learning all he could about drones.
“There was all this hype about drones and what they could do, and I wanted to know why,” he says.
“Everybody was using them for photography at videography, but I just knew that they could be used for so much more.
“I wanted to help people understand that.”
From Film to Farming
Looking at the range of services that Aerial Coverage offers, it’s easy to see that Connor was right.
Aside from the usual filmmaking and marketing services, Aerial Coverage also offers everything from infrastructure inspections and precision agriculture all the way to search and rescue.
“It’s part of what makes our company unique,” Connor says. “One day we’d be flying a live-broadcast drone over a sea of people at a concert, and the next we could be spraying pesticide at a very specific spot in a hilly, 10-acre field.
“That’s also why we always make sure our drone pilots are able to execute their tasks properly by providing specialized training for specific missions.
“We also build on their own backgrounds. Aside from our all pilots being trained cinematographers, a lot of them come from an emergency response background: EMT, police, military.
“And we make it a point to keep our tech cutting edge. We’re even building out our own mobile command post right now,” he beams.
With all these different services in play, the amount of business-critical data that Aerial Coverage would need to store and track was staggering.
Connor knew he needed a business management system that could do that plus keep pace with his rapidly growing company.
“When I came across WORKetc, what really caught my eye was that it’s kind of everything in one,” he explains.
“I have my sales team and part of my marketing team on there. I have my operations, my pilots, and then part of my finance and bookkeeping team.”
90 Towers in 30 Days
WORKetc was quick to prove its mettle. WIthin months of implementing the system, Aerial Coverage was contracted by a telecommunications company for an ambitious cell phone tower inspection project.
“It sounds easy, inspecting cell towers, but this project actually had a lot of significant challenges,” Connor explains.
“We had to create 3D point clouds for each tower—basically 3D models where the client could click on an area and see images of that specific area.
“We had to do that for 90 towers in total, spread all across the entire state of Michigan, and we only had 30 days to do it.
“On top of that, we had to deal with restricted access to several properties, strict time windows for each flight, FAA waivers, heavy vegetation, and even federally-protected bird habitats that we couldn’t disturb.
“It took a lot of traveling and careful flying, but between me and two other pilots we were able to complete everything in time.”
As Connor further explains, WORKetc’s project management module shined during this particular project.
“We created a big main project, and underneath it we created three subprojects, one for each section of the state,” he says.
“Those subprojects were then broken up into territories, and we were be able to put in the tasks for all the towers that were in those territories.
“We could set the schedule, the duration—keeping everything very organized was convenient and very easy with WORKetc.”
Tag and Track Everything
Another feature that the Aerial Coverage team found very useful was WORKetc’s custom tags.
Aerial Coverage has three main divisions. The media division handles filmmaking, marketing campaigns, real estate videos, special events, and live broadcasts.
Then, there’s the the mapping division, which does 2D and 3D surveying and infrastructure inspections for cell phone towers, power lines, and even solar panels.
And finally there’s the security division, which works closely with local law enforcement and non-profits for emergency services, disaster relief, and search and rescue missions.
Each of these divisions, in turn, have multiple subcategories under them. To keep track of which clients and projects are under which division and subcategory, Connor and his team have adopted a “tag everything” tactic.
“The custom tags let us distinguish, filter, and sort different projects and clients,” Connor explains..
“It’s very easy to use those tags to say that this client is an agriculture client, or that this is a media client who might also be interested in live broadcasts so he also has a broadcasting tag.
“And then when we create email lists and marketing campaigns it’s that much easier to distinguish exactly which campaign goes to whom.”
Sky’s the Limit
Aerial Coverage is now a year old, and true to the entrepreneurial spirit, Connor has no plans to rest on his laurels.
“Going forward, I want to be able to build Aerial Coverage as much as I can, take it as far as possible,” he says.
“I also want to continue doing other business things, whether it’s coaching or a completely new business.
“I’m a big believer in not forcing things to happen, so I really just want to see where the flow takes me.”
It looks like Aerial Coverage is well poised for even more growth in the coming years, and with continued growth comes more data to track, more projects and timesheets to manage, and more contact and lead info to store.
For those important tasks, Connor expects WORKetc to be there to continue helping Aerial Coverage
“What’s funny is, WORKetc is so useful that the more we use, as we get busier and do more things, we start thinking of things that would be cool to have in our workflows.
“And next thing we know, it turns out WORKetc can already do it.”