Earlier this month, Uplift Aeronautics’ Vice Director, Jessie Mooberry flew to Istanbul to represent Uplift as one of the top 100 startups for StartupIstanbul. For five days, she participated in mentorship, pitch competitions, and networking with some of the most promising startups from the region.
She had a very different purpose from many of the others. Uplift was not there to ask for money, but instead, to ask for partners and UAV pilots.
Uplift encountered lots of interest at the event. Microsoft Turkey hosted the training period of the event, and was excited to hear that their American colleagues had used their Washington hack-a-thon to build a prototype for drone airspace management.
Investors plied Jessie with ‘oh-why-are-you-a-nonprofit’, students from Boğaziçi and Koç University set up meetings with their teachers and robotics teams to seek out collaborations, and a few big companies in Istanbul also set dates to meet Jessie and learn more about the neat work that Uplift has been doing for the last year.
However, the team also faced challenges. The politics of flying drones in Turkey are very tricky, and getting even more difficult since drone flights have been completely restricted in Turkey for the time being. There is no clear way to get a permit. Furthermore, just as in the US, drones in Turkey are associated with a range of negativity, from targeted killings, to an invasion of privacy, to clueless pilots endangering their environment. The politically-connected individuals whom I spoke seemed excited about the idea of flying drones to assist in emergency situations, but minimally optimistic about the chances of success.
Nonetheless, Uplift has always faced near-impossible barriers. It’s who we are. Some causes are just worth fighting for. Some person once said: “Experts are the ones who tell you it can’t be done.” Which is why we aren’t experts, just a motely crew of individuals who believe the biggest challenges are the ones most worth tackling.