During the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship’s Spring Ideas weekend, one team won $1,000 for an idea they developed over a 48-hour period.
Friday, anyone with an idea had the opportunity to pitch an idea in two minutes. Afterward, each participant voted on the ideas they liked best until only five ideas were selected to be built into a rough business model throughout the weekend.
Flyover Footage was one of those ideas.
Darrin Devault, a University of Memphis journalism professor, and Tom Willcox, senior public relations major, developed the idea.
They have been working together through Meeman 901 Strategies, a student-run PR firm that operates through the Crews Center.
“I remember he was like ‘Should we pitch something?’ and I asked him what we would pitch, and he said ‘Drones,’” Willcox said. “I didn’t even think that was allowed.”
“The first step was that we looked at the drone options, and we came across the super expensive ones, the super cheap ones, and we found one that was very realistic,” Willcox said. “That’s when it was kind of like ‘Oh, this could actually work.’”
Mike Hoffmeyer, director of the Crews Center, said part of the goal for the weekend is to break down conventional ways of thinking.
“A lot of people think entrepreneurship is a discipline or some kind of subject matter, but it’s really just a way of thinking, a set of processes that you apply to whatever it is that you’re studying,” Hoffmeyer said. “This weekend is really about putting that in practice and getting people more exposure to it so we do that in the course of a weekend.”
At the end of the weekend, the CEO of each team—the person who pitched the idea—presented an investor pitch to the crowd. A panel of judges made up of local businessmen selected the pitch they thought was the best.
During their pitch, Devault and Willcox determined they would need about $20,000 as an initial investment to purchase mid-range drones and GoPro cameras.
In order to recoup funds and turn a profit, they hope to sell footage to local news stations and rent out the drones for use at weddings and other large events.
After Flyover Footage was announced as the winner, Willcox admitted to being surprised at how far they had come.
“The biggest thing is that we have no idea what’s it like to steer a drone,” Willcox said. “The ideal next step is to get a drone.”
Devault said they have a large learning curve to overcome, but it was worth the time.
“It’s been a lot of fun for me, as a professor, to work with a student of this caliber, and he’s also just a super nice guy,” Devault said. “It’s obvious that we’re onto something that has potential, and Tom and I need to soak this in and meet later this week and talk about some next steps.”