Meet Archangel Imaging: Q&A with GENIUS NY 2022 Finalist
Photo credit: 325 Productions
Company HQ: Harwell Space Campus, Oxfordshire, UK
Team Size: Currently 21. Local recruitment in Syracuse is underway for engineering and business development roles.
Focus: We make autonomous machines, like drones and ground cameras, smarter, more resilient and easier to work with as teammates, rather than vulnerable tools that need constant management.
Dan Sola, Founder and CEO
Charles Smith, Founder and CCO
Tell us about your company:
We make autonomous machines smarter, more resilient and easier to work with as teammates. Despite advances in remotely operated technologies, problems like people-trafficking, oil pipeline tapping, and poaching of endangered species continue to exist, particularly in remote areas with limited infrastructure. Police and defense personnel are exposed to even greater risk in remote operations and the infrastructure (including satellite navigation) is often specifically targeted.
Tomorrow, hybrid human-machine teams will be much more effective in protecting assets, people and the planet at scale, but technology must operate without depending on human attention or vulnerable infrastructure. You can think of our products as AI copilots, providing mission decisions and on-board detection, for remote monitoring and platform independence in challenging environments – without reliable communications, power or GPS infrastructure.
Why did you start the company?
We worked on cutting edge drone technology for many years, helping set a bunch of world records. We were deeply frustrated by how little of the world’s leading technology became world-changing. We set out to analyze where the blocks were that prevented drones and robotics systems from delivering more value, and the reasons why problems like oil pipeline tapping, people smuggling and poaching of critically endangered species continue, despite the range and deployability of remote and uncrewed technology. We realized there are two big blockers: One, complex problems all need complex solutions, and human attention remains the limiting bottleneck; and two, infrastructure – particularly for communications – is either the target or is missing entirely (because…elephants don’t watch Netflix.)
Who is your ideal customer?
We are veteran-founded and owned, and we focus on supporting users in remote, exposed, or challenging environments, including police, service personnel, first responders and NGOs. The challenges of operating in RF & GNSS denied environments are much more immediate and create a much bigger impact. Our technology helps keep our people safe, and our demonstrable capabilities have led to strong pull across UK MOD, a success we are looking to replicate in the U.S. market as well.
We have built both our airborne and ground AI systems to enable other people’s machines to become smart enough to be teammates, and resilient enough to continue operating in austere, changeable conditions. We anticipate a lot of our future sales will come through channel and partner engagement. We are also operating in huge commercial markets within which we can efficiently scale, but for the next 18 months we’ll be doubling down on success with government customers and channel.
What can we expect from your company in the near future?
We’re working to grow activity in the U.S. market leveraging our success in the U.K. market. We see many synergies between both, and a very common set of problems that we can help users to overcome. We expect to announce some key UXV partnerships soon and will be flight testing both our non-GNSS navigation and patrol AI copilot capabilities in the U.S.
Version 2 of our Argonaut AI camera will be certified for U.S. markets and will be built in Syracuse. Argonaut V2 is designed to meet the inbound demand we have not been able to service from the U.K.
Why are you excited about GENIUS NY?
The level of expertise, guidance, mentorship and the size of the network that is available to us as a cohort member is second to none. We have already learned a lot and grown as a business in the short time that we have been in the program and have received great support not just from the GENIUS NY team, but from current and previous cohort members as well. Being part of the GENIUS NY family is a great place to be.
In addition, the size of the investment that the program offers has accelerated our plans to move into the U.S. and is enabling us to scale our growth at a much faster place that we could have without this. The investor community associated with GENIUS NY, the advisors and the team all provide a support and growth mindset that is significantly contributing to our increasing success. We’ve been looking at landing in the U.S. for a long time and we’re very happy to have finally found our home.
What are you most looking forward to while staying in Syracuse?
Syracuse is a city on the up. The investment from the state, and the ecosystem that this is enabling, gives the city an exciting and energetic vibe. Also, they have a great social scene, with some amazing restaurants such as Dinosaur BBQ, bars and of course the football team – Go Orange! Location-wise, Syracuse is ideal with easy access to the Griffiss Institute and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in Rome, NY, and only a short hop to New York City. Outside of our own growth and hiring plans, we really want to unlock value (and revenue) for the rest of the ecosystem. You could say we picked Syracuse for our neighbors. Lastly, you can drive to the Adirondacks, Niagara Falls and the Finger Lakes – there’s plenty of natural beauty to enjoy.
What will you do with the GENIUS funds?
The funds will be used in three ways:
1. To create the U.S. arm of our business. We have already incorporated, are looking for local manufacturing for our Argonaut product line and are actively recruiting local talent.
2. Accelerate team growth and product releases. Changing from a bootstrapped to an investment funding model will enable us to bring forward the product roadmap at pace and to accelerate team growth by hiring in anticipation.
3. Enable partners and grow with them. We have a lot of history in drone technology, but we deliberately don’t want to make better drones: we want to make drones better. That means working with a wide selection of partners and helping them deliver value to their own customers. We picked Syracuse because of the growing ecosystem in drones, the potential for nearby collaboration with AFRL (we’re big fans of their ATAK work), the NUAIR test range and the large A&D primes active in Central New York.
Get free tickets to attend the GENIUS NY Pitch Finals Night on Nov. 3rd: www.centerstateceo.com/news-events/genius-ny-pitch-finals