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Alex Pachikov, co-founder and CEO of Sunflower Labs, Swisspreneur Podcast
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Timestamps:

00:54 - What You Study Doesn’t Matter

07:18 - Starting Sunflower Labs 

25:04 - Bureaucracy & The Drone Space in Switzerland

35:36 - The Evernote Network

39:00 - Why Some Investors Didn’t Invest

About Alex Pachikov:

Alex Pachikov is the co-founder and CEO of Sunflower Labs, a remote and autonomous drone solution for property security. He graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2003 with a degree in Astronomy and Sociology. A decade later, he co-founded Sunflower Labs with Chris Eheim and Nicolas de Palézieux.

Alex Pachikov was born in Russia and moved to the United States in 1992, at the age of 11. He began his career at Silicon Graphics at the age of 17 and became the youngest employee in 1997. He and his roommate, Chris Eheim, started a company together during college in 1999 before co-founding Sunflower Labs together in 2016.

When he started Sunflower Labs in 2016, it was one of five ideas they had after brainstorming about several business ventures they wanted to do together. It was the perfect time for Sunflower Labs to launch since the drone industry worldwide was starting to gain traction. The idea of Sunflower Labs as an automated drone-in-a-box solution that integrates with your existing security cameras and sensors became revolutionary in the space of commercial drone security. With the push of a button, the drone flies from its hive and is able to plan a path and perform a sweep of a large property within seconds. The secret is the 3D property mapping and geofencing technology that allows the drone to navigate and stay within the property, detect unexpected obstacles, re-route to avoid collision and actively deter intruders and loiters with its presence.

Despite Sunflower Lab’s revolutionary take on property security, they faced many challenges during their startup stage, including but not limited to:

  • The bureaucracy in starting a company in Switzerland 
  • Some Investors deciding not to invest because they thought the idea wasn’t feasible 
  • Navigating the drone space at a time when several drone companies were plummeting

What helped Sunflower Labs to be successful despite these challenges was the support of the Evernote Network. Alex worked at Evernote from 2006-2015, dedicating almost a decade of his life to it. He was Evernote’s 3rd official employee and was a member of the founding team, serving as VP of partnerships, developer relations and hardware products integration. When he had the idea of starting Sunflower Labs, the Evernote Founders Network was a valuable asset, providing mentorship as well as investing in his company. With their support having an integral role in their start-up stage, Sunflower Labs raised over 15 million dollars in seed funds.

From moving to the USA from Russia to studying Astronomy to starting a drone-security company, Alex Pachikov’s journey is inspiring to new entrepreneurs who may want to pursue a similar dream. His journey reinforces that what you study does not have to charter your future entirely and that with great ideas, paired with a lot of hard work and great support, dreams can come true!

Memorable Quotes:

“If you want a software to be executed with perfection you have to build your own hardware."

“If you play a game, you’re not playing the same level over and over. At some point you want to level up.” 

If you would like to listen to another founder in the drone space, check out episode 206 with Lorenzo Arizzoli-Bulato, co-founder of LINIA.

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