Founder Stories: What’s behind the largest commercial autonomous system on earth? With Zipline’s Keller Rinaudo Cliffton
This is a special bonus episode from our Founder Stories series, where entrepreneurs share the story of their startup journey.
A delivery with Zipline is the closest thing we have to teleportation. It sounds like science fiction, but Zipline delivers life saving medical supplies such as blood and vaccines to hospitals, doctors and people in need around the world with the world's largest autonomous drone network.
This week on the podcast, Sarah Guo talks to Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, the co-founder and CEO of Zipline, about building a full-stack business that involves software, hardware and operations, how a culture of ruthless engineering practicality enabled them to do unlikely things, the state of autopilot in aircraft, their AI acoustic detect-and-avoid system, and why founders should build for users beyond the "golden billion."
- Zipline's website
- Video: Drone Delivery Start-Up Zipline Beats Amazon, UPS And FedEx To The Punch | CNBC
- Keller Rinaudo: How we're using drones to deliver blood and save lives | TED Talk
- Meet Romotive: An Ambitious Startup That Blew Our Minds
[2:07 ] - Keller’s earlier projects and early inspiration for Zipline and transforming logistics
[7:40 ] - Why Zipline focused on healthcare logistics and Zipline’s early near death experiences as a company
[15:32 ] - How Zipline iterated on the hardware while being ruthlessly practical with getting products in the customers’ hands
[21:52 ] - The difference between AI and Autopilot
[25:51 ] - How Zipline developed AI acoustic-based detect and avoid system
[31:30 ] - Zipline’s partnership with Rwanda’s public health system
[34:25 ] - Challenges in the business model