An architect and industrial designer, Luciano Da Silveira Araujo has been designing new products at his award-winning studio in Brazil, ovo design, for the past ten years. Over this time an inner voice emerged, calling him to aeronautical design. So he began building airships. And one day Luciano realized that one of his drone designs was beating world standards in its longevity in the air.
A realization that he had entered unknown territory paralleled his excitement. “I knew how to build drones, but I didn’t know how to build a drone business,” recounts Luciano. “My first idea was to build a custom drone design company.”
Luciano applied to the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp to validate that vision. “I was in search of a safe and supportive environment where I could validate my hypotheses and business model concretely,” he explains.
Through a chance conversation with a Bootcamp mentor that vision underwent radical transformation. “I heard from one mentor ‘Sure, you can build a nice company making custom drones’” shares Luciano. “‘But you won’t build a scalable, global enterprise. Likely, you’ll build a nice small business. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a question of what your vision is.’”
Another Bootcamp mentor was an MIT alum who once advised multinational clients in Brazil and now led partnerships for an MIT startup developing chemical catalysts for agriculture. “He said to me, ‘Why won’t you monitor crops with your drones. Brazil’s vast farmland could be a vast beachhead for you’”, remembers Luciano. And so, Elio, a drones-as-a-service platform measuring agricultural crop performance through drone imaging data, was born.
Luciano’s journey has accelerated at an unprecedented pace after the Bootcamp as he’s logged more than 45,000 kilometers last year on an Elio truck, performing customer research and testing his drones on Brazil’s farms. Now Elio utilizes drone sensors to deliver real-time analytics to farmers to reduce crop loss. It also guides farm machinery at night and helps farmers optimize the efficiency of land use.
Motivated by a strong launch, Luciano continues to evolve Elio by refining agricultural algorithms and AI, improving the accuracy of current tests and reports while adding new services requested by customers. Elio has also closed on a seed round to fuel its growth.
Elio’s success led to an invitation from MIT to serve as Mentor at the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, a role that Luciano has embraced wholeheartedly. “We fall in love with our own creations, so we have to control our ego and show that we’re more than just smart,” Luciano says when asked about entrepreneurial concepts he strengthened at MIT. “When others perceive that we’re looking for better solutions, that we’re empathetic with customers and investors, we’re able to grow our business.”
How can the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp shape your future? Find out more about the program, and apply today.