Chris Holder and Ruth Yong
Chris Holder and Ruth Yong set up specialist drone business, Udara Ltd, just six months ago. They talk to BQ about what inspired them and why they have entered 2017's If We Can You Can competition.
What did you do before setting up your business?
Chris has spent the last four years working on his PhD at Durham University, researching off-road autonomous driving on a project for Jaguar Land Rover. Before that, he was a technical consultant at a multinational IT services company.
Ruth has worked as an accountant for a wide assortment of companies, particularly in the science and technology sectors.
What inspired you to set up your business?
Both of us were sick of the typical 9 to 5 employee life and wanted to be our own bosses. An interest in drones combined with Chris’s experience in artificial intelligence led to the initial idea, and Ruth’s experience in business and finance is helping to turn that idea into a viable business.
What makes this business different?
Currently, most commercial uses for drone technology involves them being used as flying cameras, however a flight can lead to thousands of images that need to be manually sifted through for meaningful information. Udara aims to change this by building software that can analyse aerial images automatically and instantly output the important information operators require.
What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?
As a brand-new company, we felt that the If We Can You Can Challenge would provide a great opportunity to show off our technology in front of potential customers, collaborators, and investors.
Where do you see your business in three years’ time?
The drone industry is fast paced and highly disruptive, so it can be difficult to predict how things will look in three months, never mind three years. Hopefully Udara will be a trusted brand providing valuable software to drone operators all over the world across a variety of sectors, increasing the efficiency of their operations as well as the value they can offer to their customers. However, our ideal scenario, like many technology companies, would be to eventually sell the business to one of the bigger players.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
To be completely honest, we are still at the hard work with no real payoff stage at the moment, but we are confident some progress will be made soon. Hopefully we will have an answer to this question in a few months.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Trying to get our company off the ground and be taken seriously: Udara has existed for less than six months, and with only two of us to do all the work of building a business from nothing, those have been a manic six months. And the next six are very likely to be even more so…
Who/what gave you support or advice?
Durham University have been very supportive so far, in terms of advice, resources, and funding, helping us to receive a £500 Kickstart grant towards computer hardware, which although not an earth-shattering amount of money has certainly been useful in getting the company up and running.
What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?
Force yourself to jump in with both feet as soon as possible: the sooner you start taking your business seriously the sooner other people will too.