For FreeSkies, the Sky is Truly the Limit

2/18/2015 Preena Patel

Established by students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, FreeSkies is a startup which aims to simplify and program the next generation of transportation, delivery, rescue, and security vehicles through software innovation and simplicity.

Currently FreeSkies is working on their first product called The Director. This product is geared towards the film industry, putting control straight in the hands of directors. The FreeSkies teams states, “The software powers complex functions during flight from path management to launch and landing. This allows the user to simply input points and fly the quad copter freely through those points. This method is beneficial to users because it cuts the cost of using heavy machinery such as cranes or lifts, and is able to deliver the most unique shot, to both professional and amateur directors and photographers.”

FreeSkies founding team includes Ankur Mehta, Jay Mulakala and Andy Putch, all seniors in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois. FreeSkies got its start when the team pitched the idea at the 54 Startup weekend this past September. After wanting to gain initial feedback on their idea, they were ecstatic to be placed as a finalist in the competition as well as winning funding and resources for their project.

FreeSkies has won many honors in the past few months, including placing in the top 3 at the 54 Startup Weekend Competition, earning a spot in the Top 64 at the Student Startup Madness Competition in Austin, Texas, and winning the 1871 regional startup competition at ThinkChicago this past October.

Recently, FreeSkies was accepted to the Lightspeed Ventures Summer Fellowship program. This program is a platform that provides space, resources, and the guidance needed for startups to succeed as well as giving $10,000 per individual and an extra $5,000 per team to accelerate their business. The program is 10 weeks long and takes place in Menlo Park, CA.

FreeSkies is currently participating in the Cozad New Venture Competition. They plan to continue working on FreeSkies throughout next semester at Research Park as well as in lab space provided by the Bretl Research Group. Next summer, they plan on starting consumer trials to attract more support for the concept. At this point, co-founder Jay Mulakala states they “have plans to approach drone manufacturing companies with plans to license the software and implement it on their current products.”