Levitation Dynamics is a new player in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Industry. Crossover had a Q&A session with Levitation Dynamic’s Luide Kakembo to find out more about the company.
Crossover Kenya: How would you describe Levitation Dynamics?
Levitation Dynamics: Levitation Dynamics is a Kenyan technology and innovation startup that has its primary focus on pioneering Commercial Drone technology solutions for industrial application. The idea for the company was conceived in mid-2017. Our vision is to cultivate mainstream use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in a safe and effective manner.
Crossover Kenya: How did you decide on this business? Do you have a background in aeronautics?
Levitation Dynamics: I have no particular background in aeronautics, as I studied Telecommunications for my bachelor’s degree. However, as a child, one of my biggest hobbies was building radio-controlled cars and planes. Fast forward to the present times, and seeing the undeniable economic potential globally that drones offer, I decided to take a shot at pursuing these opportunities in our relatively young but ripe drone market.
Crossover Kenya: How does it work? How do you gather data from operating drones and how is this data useful to your clients?
Levitation Dynamics: UAVs can be looked at quite simply like any other work tool, such as the personal computer or even the simple axe; which when put to work can achieve specific goals. Once programmed and sent on an automated mission, our drones, equipped with specialized flight control systems and camera sensors, are able to capture multitudes of data at a perspective simply not achievable at ground level, and with high speed and precision. This data is later processed in to information such as crop health reports and digital surface models (DSMs), information that is both actionable and valuable to our clients.
Crossover Kenya: Where do you operate in Kenya and beyond?
Levitation Dynamics: We are currently based in Kenya, with a few pilot projects in Central and Eastern regions, however, we do seek to eventually have our technology utilized throughout the country, as there is huge market potential that remains largely unexplored.
Crossover Kenya: Which sectors of industry do you apply your strategies with UAV?
Levitation Dynamics: Based on our research, and from conversations with various stakeholders, we see enormous potential locally in the fields of agriculture- where farmers can optimize their inputs and mitigate crop loss-, infrastructure, and health-for medical deliveries in remote areas. We are in the process of adequately equipping ourselves to serve these sectors both widely and comprehensively.
Crossover Kenya: What is your view on the acceptance by the Aviation Authority to allow drone operations on the country? Do you find their fees to be fair?
Levitation Dynamics: I believe the initiative taken by the Aviation Authority to regulate the sector is a bold, positive move in the right direction, as it gives companies like ours a yardstick onto which we can base our operations. However, their charges as currently stipulated are quite high and prohibitive, and may gravely limit the growth of small industry players with big visions, but limited resources to execute. For perspective, the United States’ Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) charges $150 for the pilot’s licensing exam, and only $5 to have a commercial drone registered, while in Kenya, operators are set to be charged upwards of $1000 and $500 respectively for the same services. Once the regulator is able to engage positively with the various stakeholders regarding how the policies may be best implemented, the industry will be able to take off.
Crossover Kenya: How many drones do you have in operation?
Levitation Dynamics: We currently develop our own capacity internally, and we have two custom-built commercial drones that we are seeking to have registered and fully operational. However, with time we seek to import more purpose-built UAVs, as we expand our operations around the country.
Crossover Kenya: What challenges did you face while setting up the business?
Levitation Dynamics: Being a relatively new sector, one of the biggest challenges we faced was access to the right tools, technology and expertise. Many of the systems we use need to be imported, which often delays projects by numerous weeks, or even months.
Crossover Kenya: Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Levitation Dynamics: I know it must be cliché at this point, but I personally believe it is of the utmost importance to be passionate about what you are pursuing. Majority of startups face a multitude of challenges in their early stages, and one of the only things that can keep you going in those times of adversity, is your passion and vision. Also, budding entrepreneurs should be innovative with the way they approach solutions to market problems. An idea that is ten times better than what is currently available, with the right team and systems in place, would be destined for success.