Entrepreneurs: Danny Ellis, Co-Founder & CEO, Tom Brady, Co-Founder & CTO
Year Selected to Endeavor: 2017
Services Received from Endeavor: Mentorship, Investment through Catalyst, Connections to foreign support in South America and Europe, Introductions to potential partner companies, Executive education at Harvard and Stanford, peer networks.
SkySpecs is simplifying renewable energy asset management so less can do more for the planet.
SkySpecs Co-Founders Danny Ellis and Tom Brady, met in the summer of 2008 at a hydraulics lab in Kalamazoo, Mich. during a summer aerospace engineering internship through the University of Michigan. At first, they started working with drones for fun and were part of a student research group, Michigan Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (MAAV), whose goal was to build a completely autonomous drone that could navigate an unknown building in order to retrieve a flash drive. After several years of that research, they joined the incubator program at University of Michigan, confident there were going to be commercial applications.
The original pitch for the business was a solution looking for a problem.
SkySpecs launched in 2012, with the belief that many industries were going to benefit from autonomous flying cameras. This assumption proved to be true, but it came years after the initial founding of the company. SkySpecs began as a robotic inspection firm focused on using custom, automated drones to assess the health of wind turbine blades, reducing the standard time from 4+ hours to 15 minutes and removing the need for a technician from dangling from ropes. In 2017, SkySpecs launched its first commercial product and completed its first complete wind farm inspection.
This eventually led to an evolution of products focused on renewable energy asset management and predictive maintenance to help push the wind industry further with its existing resources. Since then, SkySpecs has inspected over 600,000 wind turbine blades in 31 countries and covers 90% of the asset owners and operators in North America. What began as a 3-person team has grown to over 260 FTE and 100+ contractors with offices in the U.S., Austria, Amsterdam, Ireland, Denmark, Serbia, UK, and India.
" If not for Endeavor, I would be less connected to the entire world. Endeavor has expanded my perspective on global entrepreneurship and connected me to incredible people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Collectively, this has built up my own perspectives and advice that I have passed on to other entrepreneurs."
Co-Founder & CEO, Skyspecs
SkySpecs has been recognized many times over the years through industry innovation awards. In 2016, Danny Ellis and Tom Brady were recognized in the Forbes “30 under 30.” Additionally, Danny was recognized as a Crain’s Detroit 40 Under 40 awardee in 2021, and in 2023 received both the EY Entrepreneur of the Year for the Michigan/Ohio region and Michigan Venture Capital Association’s Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year award.
SkySpecs accelerated its growth in 2022 with an $80 million capital raise, which stands as among the largest funding rounds raised by a Michigan technology company.
" I believe all entrepreneur support organizations have their strengths at various points of the entrepreneurship journey with Endeavor taking the premiere spot in growth and later stage companies. "
Co-Founder & CEO
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