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How Google Launchpad helped prepare newly cash flush Aerobotics to scale

Funding has little value if you don’t put it to good use as some startups often discover when it’s too late. This makes business advice from experts invaluable — as Benji Meltzer, the co-founder of Cape Town aerial data analytics platform Aerobotics will likely know.

It come hot on the heels of last week’s Series-A funding announcement (for an undisclosed amount) in which local Nedbank was the lead investor.

Aerobotics co-founder Benji Meltzer (pictured above right, with co-founder James Patterson (left) and Google research director Peter Norvig) told Ventureburn today that being part of the six-month Google Launchpad programme has helped the startup in place the necessary systems and processes that will allow the startup to scale.

“Almost all of the focus has been on leveraging Google’s knowledge in setting up systems and processes for scale, which has meant that we have been able to accelerate our progress in launching on a global level,” said Meltzer.

He and co-founder James Patterson were in San Francisco last month to attend the graduation ceremony and a leadership programme.

The focus was on leveraging Google’s knowledge in setting up systems and processes, which will help us accelerate our progress in going global – Aerobotics co-founder

In January, he and Paterson (who is CEO), as well as the startup’s lead developer Nic Coles and COO Andrew Burdock joined 23 other startups from around the world for the start of the fifth cohort of Google’s Launchpad Accelerator at the Google Developers Launchpad Space in San Francisco.

Read more: SA startup Aerobotics secures funding round from Nedbank VC fund [Updated]
Read more: Silicon Valley bound: Aerobotics team set to jet off to US for Launchpad Accelerator

Meltzer said the duo picked up key learnings from the programme in a number of areas, which have impacted the business.

“These were largely focused around machine learning, product and leadership. Further, we were able to have intimate talks and one-on-ones sessions with some of the best minds at Google, ranging from (former Alphabet chairman) Eric Schmidt to (Google research director) Peter Norvig and (behavioral economist) Dan Ariely,” he added.

He and Patterson were based in San Francisco for the majority of the programme, rather than at Google’s offices — however Meltzer said they were still able to go on a few trips to Mountain View (in Silicon Valley, where Google’s offices are based).

“These visits were inspiring in terms of learning and seeing first hand how best to scale culture, while maintaining a startup feel,” he said.

He said during the programme the startup made three separate trips to the US. Each of these he described as having a specific function.

The first involved general mentorship and business strategy, with a specific focus on putting the processes in place to scale your business.

In the second visit the duo focused on machine Learning through a Google High Touch Point project. The project involved digging into a few of the startup’s specific machine learning problems and working with data scientists at Google to help work through these.

During the final visit the duo attended a leadership lab and the graduation ceremony where they looked at things such as managing a team and becoming thought leaders.

Featured image: Aerobotics founders James Patterson (left) and Benji Meltzer (right), with Google research director Peter Norvig (Supplied)


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