Building Drone Highways for Drone Industry, State & Local Governments


Airspace Link is an FAA Approved UAS Service Supplier (USS) of the Low Altitude Authorization & Notification Capability (LAANC). A cloud-based platform founded by Detroit, Michigan based founder Michael Healander.

Airspace Link can be used anytime, anywhere with existing Esri solutions. Airspace Link solutions can scale to hundreds or even millions of people, pilots and drones interacting with it at the same time.

Building drone highways was inspired by the 2014 Amazon Prime Air drone package delivery video. We realized that a low altitude infrastructure and Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) would need to be built to make this type of delivery safely within our communities. After some research we decided to wait until the drone industry, FAA, State & Local Governments would even start to consider this capability. In 2018 we gradually saw signs by the FAA and the drone industry that it was time to start building Airspace Link.

How did you get your first three customers?

We attended the National League of Cities (NLC) conference in San Antonio which landed us Ontario, California. We also picked up several cities in Michigan with support from Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Mobility initiative group (PlanetM) and direct sales with demonstrations of our Beta SaaS solutions.

How did you validate the idea?

We validated the market with a lot of interviews with potential customers. We talked to communities heavily involved in drone technology and communities that didn’t want anything to do with drones. This information allowed us to build a MVP solution to test with these different types of user personas within the FAA, drone industry and state & local government. Similar to a three legged stool, we learned that it was going to take multiple stakeholders to solve the problem of safely and legally flying drones through the national airspace and our communities.

Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?

Much of our team’s experience comes from solving complex problems using geospatial technology for Federal, State & Local Government and Fortune 500 companies.

Have you raised any money? How much?

Yes, we closed a pre-seed round with 2048 Ventures in October 2018 for just over $1,020,000 when completing Techstars Detroit accelerator. We quickly hit several milestones and closed another seed round for $3,050,000 in December 2018 with Indicator Ventures.

Who is your target demographic?

State and Local governments and the drone industry. To stay competitive, the Aerotropolis region deployed the Airspace Link low altitude drone infrastructure to its local communities and airports to support the safe use of recreational and commercial drone use in the region. These capabilities provide a new type of Smart City mobility infrastructure supporting the growth of drone operations, drone service providers, drone manufacturing, package delivery and air taxi in the future. “The Aerotropolis Board has directed me to actively pursue enabling technologies that build on our region’s multimodal transportation network. A means to safely open low altitude airspace for commercial activity building on our existing network.” Said Christopher Girdwood, Detroit Aerotropolis Executive Director.

What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?

Can I shoot down drones over my property? No, that would be a federal crime.

How did you fund the idea initially?

Danny, Ana & I self-funded for the first year as we tested the market. We then met with Detroit Venture Partners and Ludlow Ventures who supported us with our first $100,000 convertible note.

Where did you meet your co-founder/founding team?

Danny & I have worked in five different tech companies together over the past decade. We’ve been through one IP acquisition, one spinoff, one acquisition of Gemoetri and I met my amazing co-founder wife at CrossFit.

Any tips for finding first employees?

I reached out to some very talented people that I had worked with at other companies and I let them know I was starting a new company.

Airspace Link Team Photo

We currently have four employee’s that have worked with me in the past at different companies. We have the band back together.

Did you run any companies prior?

Yes, I was a general manager, co-founder and senior partner in previous companies.

What motivated you to start your own business?

I have a passion for technology and solving complex geospatial problems. When I see a problem that doesn’t have a good solution, I build a vision and team that can solve it and bring it to fruition.

What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?

Everyone was really supportive and thought we were really on to something special.

What motivates you when things go wrong?

What is the end goal? We are providing a much needed solution and when things go wrong, I know that everyone can benefit from the technology so that keeps me moving forward. Our end goal is that the FAA , State and Local Governments have a solution to support the drone industry. That drone pilots have the safest flight path, with all the up to date information needed for their flights.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

Get out and test your pitch and listen to feedback, watch the body language, etc. Pitch it 150 times. This will help you craft the message. Understand the business model, how are you going to make money in the future. Build the vision and focus on the problem to be solved. Be willing to change direction based on things you learn. It’s hard so bring the passion.

What has driven the most sales?

Case studies and social media support sales. But face to face meetings and demos work the best at this stage. Our customers can then see the product and all it’s capabilities first hand. This is really new technology and requires a bit of teaching during the pitch. Take them on a journey to uncover the problem and solution and value.

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

This is a new infrastructure and we’re on boarding innovators, early adopters and getting ready to cross the chasm to early majority customers. We have hit a bit of a slow down with the pandemic but we are still pushing through. If anything, we believe this technology is needed now more than ever, we just need to get more cities and states educated.

How do you protect yourself from competition?

We have built a FAA approved, cloud-based platform simultaneously connects all constituents involved in legally flying a drone. It’s a 3 legged ecosystem that protects our company.

AirspaceLink Platform1

To help meet the demands of drones in local airspace, the FAA has introduced the UAS Data Exchange, a partnership between government and Airspace Link facilitating the sharing of airspace data between the two parties. Under this umbrella of cooperation, the first program available to drone pilots today is known as the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). In the United States, the LAANC program is intended to directly support the integration of UAS vehicles into national airspace. Regulators are interested in supporting technology innovation while still providing air traffic professionals with visibility into where and when drones are operating.

AirspaceLink platform 3

To help meet the demands of drones in local airspace, the FAA has introduced the UAS Data Exchange, a partnership between government and Airspace Link facilitating the sharing of airspace data between the two parties. Under this umbrella of cooperation, the first program available to drone pilots today is known as the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). In the United States, the LAANC program is intended to directly support the integration of UAS vehicles into national airspace. Regulators are interested in supporting technology innovation while still providing air traffic professionals with visibility into where and when drones are operating.

AirspaceLink platform2

Several cities have gone live with AirHub for Government system providing communication tools from its communities to the drone industry. Drone pilots get free access to this data and FAA (ATC) flight authorization through AirHub for Pilots app.

What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without?

  1. Amazon Cloud technology
  2. Pipedrive
  3. Esri.

Why are they essential?

To have a hosted solution a geospatial cloud allows our government customers to leverage its existing Esri investment to quickly connect residents, pilots, government, and data. Because it’s software-as-a-service (SaaS), Airspace Link can be used anytime, anywhere with existing Esri solutions. Airspace Link solutions can scale to hundreds or even millions of people, pilots and drones interacting with it at the same time.

What are your favourite books?

  • Principles – Ray Dalio
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team; Death by Meeting; The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, Getting Naked, The Five Temptations of a CEO – Patrick Lencioni
  • Outstanding – John G. Miller
  • Fanatical Prospecting – Jeb Blount
  • How the Mighty Fall – Jim Collins
  • The Challenger Sales – Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
  • Great Demo! – Peter Cohan
  • The Power of Full Engagement – Jim Loehr, Tony Schwartz
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a – Mark Manson
  • Switch – Chip Heath
  • The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
  • Ted Talks – Chris Anderson
  • Spin Selling – Neil Rachham
  • Raise Capital on Your Own Terms – Jenny Kassan
  • The Four Steps to the Epiphany – Steve Blank
  • The Art of the App Store – Tyson McCann

Can you share what are your next steps? Where do you see the company in 5 years?

Airspace Link next steps include hiring great people and expanding our system and services to every state and local government in the US. Airspace Link will be deployed globally providing products and services required to safely integrate and manage drones in the global airspace and local communities.

What is your current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing

Product started shipping in Q1 2020 and the revenue numbers are not able to be shared at this time.

Company Name: Airspace Link
Founder: Michael Healander



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