Why Landing in Syracuse Made all the Difference for Joerg Schamuhn’s Drone Company
The GENIUS NY business accelerator program brought Joerg, his wife, Birgit, and his company from Hamburg, Germany, to Syracuse and The Tech Garden. The company maintains other locations in the United Kingdom, Hungary, Grand Forks, N.D., and Hamburg. Joerg is CEO and responsible for the expanding global operation of the company.
The company’s roots go back to late 2017 when two of Joerg’s friends began developing a new approach to the principle of the gyrocopter. In essence, they added modern helicopter technology to gyrocopters, which have been around since the 1920s.
In 2019, they looked for someone to lead the operation and asked Joerg to join them. He was working in Europe and the U.S. for a Chinese drone manufacturer at the time, but he traveled to meet with them in Hungary, liked what he saw, and became one of the company’s four founders. He said Airial Robotics’ system substantially extends UAV performance in payload, range, speed, and safety.
How rare is a gyrocopter-helicopter hybrid? “This doesn’t exist anywhere else,” Joerg said. “Gyrocopters are not frequently around us. But interestingly enough, by track record they are the safest aviation design overall – better than fixed wing, better than any helicopter. But it has a big disadvantage. A gyrocopter cannot take off and land vertically, which is basically a must in an uncrewed aircraft … When you look into the playbook of aviation from 1911 till today, you will not find a company that was able to successfully combine helicopter with gyrocopter. We are definitely the first one.”
In Syracuse, the GENIUS program supports and mentors those kind of inventive drone companies. They spend a year in residence at The Tech Garden and every year five GENIUS finalists compete for $3 million in investments. Last October, Airtonomy won the grand prize, a $1 million investment. Airial Robotics was awarded a $500,000 investment.
With his naval aviation background and global business experience, how does Joerg view effective leadership? “It’s very important that leaders understand the responsibility that they have,” he said. “The responsibility is not only for revenue, profitability, efficiency. It’s about taking care of people … A good leader is the one that takes care of his people in the most complete way possible.”
Read Joerg’s entire interview on leadership with Stan Linhorst of syracuse.com, here.