‘5 minutes with’ are new bi-weekly interview series, where high-impact Endeavor founders share their most valuable advice, motivations, and lessons learned throughout their journey. Part of the featured network members coming are Viktor Bilyanski (Scalefocus), Pressian Karakostov (TitanGate), and Nick Todorov (LimeChain).
We start the interview series with Svilen Rangelov, who co-founded DRONAMICS in 2014 alongside his brother Konstantin Rangelov. Creating aircraft in a country that hasn’t produced aircraft in 70 years is an ambitious plan and today, we ask Svilen, a serial entrepreneur with international experience, what are the most valuable things he’s learned and what advice would he give based on his entrepreneurial journey.
1. How do you attract top talent and maintain company culture?
Since the start, we knew that the talent we attract and retain would be the difference between making it or not. We have presence in several countries across Europe, the US as well as Australia, and attracting talent with different backgrounds, experience and geographies has been key in our growth. Mindset is as important as skill set in a fast-growing organization like ours. We cross over technology, aviation, and cargo logistics, so our talent is as diverse as it gets.
2. What does failure mean to you?
In most scenarios in business, failure can be a great teacher. What we don’t want to fail is our people, their trust or anyone’s safety. So, we’re working very hard to minimize those risks – very often by learning from past mistakes – ideally other people’s.
3. What’s your metric for success?
While it is common to link success to comfort, for me and Dronamics success means having made a positive impact. The impact you can have and the kind of personal development you experience in an entrepreneurial adventure are very different from what you might encounter in a more traditional organization, however open and flexible. In a scale-up environment, it is easier to leverage your ability to learn new things, to create, and to think about the positive impact you can have – and many people see value in that.
4. Share the most valuable advice received at a mentorship session
To use a famous quote from Wayne Gretzky, “go where the puck is going, not where it has been.’’ If you are absolutely certain about where you see the puck going, keep working at that. When we started the company eight years ago, we had no team, no product, no money, no customers and even if we had all these things, it would not have been legal as drone rules didn’t exist. But we had an idea and an unshakable belief in our thesis and we’ve kept pushing as hard as we can. We’ve grown, evolved and adjusted since, but we’ve stayed true to our belief and to our mission, and best of all – have been proven right, all along, after all these years.
Besides the much more widely known Henry Ford, Ingvar Kamprad, Ralph Ketner, and Sam Walton, who have all done so much to reorganize our world, my brother (Dronamics Co-founder, Konstantin) and I look up to Telerik, a Bulgarian software start-up that became a record-breaking entrepreneurial success in the country. When they started, there were nearly none of the tools, investment, and mentoring opportunities available to start-ups today, and they made it on the global stage regardless. We admire them deeply, and we are fortunate that two of their co-founders became investors and advisors to us at Dronamics.
DRONAMICS is on a mission to democratize airfreight, making it affordable and accessible for everyone, everywhere. Its flagship Black Swan is able to carry 350kg (770lb) at a distance of up to 2,500km (1,550mi), and can land on airstrips as short as 400m, enabling same-day shipping over very long distances for a variety of industries, from pharma to food, from e-commerce to spare parts and for a cost 50% lower than other aircraft. The company is Europe’s first licensed drone cargo airline and IATA’s first strategic partner for drones worldwide.