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May 22, 2019

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Student-run drone company to present at big-time tech conference

SkyWorks

Steve Marcus

Greg Friesmuth, CEO/founder, talks about the Qua.R.K. (Quad Rotor Research Kit) drone at SkyWorks, a company producing research drones, in Henderson Monday, Jan. 26, 2015.

SkyWorks

Greg Friesmuth, CEO/founder, flies the Qua.R.K. (Quad Rotor Research Kit) drone at SkyWorks, a company producing research drones, in Henderson Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. Launch slideshow »

In May, dozens of startup companies will converge in Downtown Las Vegas to court the world’s leading investors and venture capitalists.

One of them will be Las Vegas’ own Skyworks Aerial Systems, a drone company formed by two former UNLV engineering students.

The company was recently shortlisted as one of around 50 promising startups that will pitch their business model at Collision, a conference that draws a who’s who in the tech industry ranging from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh to executives from companies like Facebook, Skype and Twitter.

“It’s big because it’s basically a chance for us to spread our word around,” said Skyworks co-founder Jinger Zeng. “There’s not a lot of venture capitalists in Nevada.”

Skyworks just went on the market with a highly customizable drone called the Qua.R.K., a handful of which have been bought by UNLV. But now they are looking to raise serious money to expand their operation.

Last year the company won the Southern Nevada Business Plan Competition and took home $80,000 in prize money.

Zeng said pitching at Collision would give them a chance to spread their vision for drone technology. Right now the market for drones is largely geared toward enthusiasts who use them recreationally. With Qua.R.K., Skyworks wants to expand the technology to the private sector, where companies often have to rely on humans to do dirty and dangerous work.

“There’s a lot of people out there building piecemeal drones,” Zeng said. “What’s really meaningful is [that we’re] not reinventing the iPhone, but building more apps.”

Greg Friesmuth, the company’s CEO and Zeng’s fellow cofounder, is set to appear on a panel about drone technology at the conference.

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