How Crashing My Drone Helped My Business Take Off

I knew long before the actual crash happened that we
were in for some trouble.

It didn't just feel catastrophic. It felt cruel. I knew long before the actual crash happened that we were in for some trouble. I hit a headwind on the return flight which ended up chewing through my remaining battery power much too quickly. After flying for over sixty seconds with the power showing 0%, and having gotten so close to home, I couldn't help but cling to the tiny spark of optimism I still felt. 

It was almost as if I was in some dark, twisted comedy, or maybe one of those nightmares where you are always just out of reach of safety. It was so close I could almost touch the quadcopter — a mere 52 feet above the landing zone and making my final descent when the last few drops of power coursed through the motors. Our chopper took one final, pitiful gasp before falling silent, and ultimately surrendering to gravity. We watched in horror as it met the earth in a way definitely not recommended by the manufacturer. 'Note to self: try harder next time to not crash the $5k piece of equipment that is central to your entire business model.'

Had I begun my return flight 30 seconds sooner, this story (and blog post) might never have happened. But the way I see it, that would have been the real tragedy.

Let me explain. 

Launching a new business is hard.  Like, really hard. Ok, it's probably not as challenging for those 'very very very' smart presidential candidates with normal-small hands, but I was never dealt a decent trump card, so to speak. Building a business from scratch is the most risky, unnerving, exciting, expensive, educational, gut-wrenching process most people will ever experience. It's a roller coaster. The learning curve can be brutal — but there are those tiny moments that bring unparalleled gratification. 

The hardest part, for me at least, is not coming up with the idea. I've been dreaming up business ideas since I was a kid. The hardest part isn't even building the product or designing the service, as grueling as that work can be. And even though I break out into a sweat when it's time to get my head into design mode — product design, brand identity, app graphics — that still isn't the most difficult part. The biggest wall I've faced is in the actual task of getting my business out there. You know, helping it land into the mainstream. Heck, I'd even settle for hitting the river's shoreline most days. Just finding a decent market fit, "cracking the nut" as we call it....figuring out how to cost-effectively capture the attention of our potential customers is really a job in and of itself. 

Keep in mind, this part is the full-time job after we've designed, built, tested, and launched the product. Figuring out how to get the market to respond, unsure if the market will respond, can create a healthy dose of anxiety. It's difficult to explain, but I've found that any business I've bled to build becomes part of me, and the fear of rejection almost always follows uninvited. 

For a guy as talkative as I am, you'd think it would be a breeze for me to share my next big idea with the world. Ironically, its the thing I struggle with most.

It's worth noting that at the moment our precious drone ate dirt (ok, asphalt technically), our product was already launched. Sales had even been growing, and that's awesome. But we'd hardly arrived, at least not yet. Crashing our most crucial asset would seem like a fairly inopportune thing to happen at this point. But it wasn't. 

We've blogged a lot about stress, health, mental and emotional wellness, physical wholeness, meditation, and more. It's something we are really excited about, and something we hope to help share with the world. I don't know, maybe it was all the blog posts I've written or edited this year, all the data and research I've read, or perhaps all the Sky Tripping I have done which has finally helped me "transcend", but my instinctive reaction when my drone lost the war with physics was, surprisingly, acceptance and calm. I wasn't angry. There was no overwhelming regret. I was definitely disappointed, but I immediately accepted that what is, is. 

This type of thinking seems counter to the entrepreneurial mindset. No — it IS counter to the entrepreneurial mindset. An entrepreneur is driven to make change out of thin air, to impose his will on the world around him in order to change it to more closely match his vision of a better tomorrow. Acceptance is self-defeating, or so it would seem.

Personally, I tend to play the whole "what if" game when bad things happen to (or because of) me. I don't just do it a little bit; I can do it obsessively. I instantly felt an awareness of my situation — a realization that our workload had just ballooned beyond what it was when the sun rose that morning. It was now time to make it or break it.  Well, ok — technically "break it" was taken. Since we weren't anywhere near ready to throw in the towel, "make it" was really the only choice we had left. 

#This experience reminded me that we really do have control over our emotional response to unexpected circumstances, and that the emotions we feed will definitely determine the immediate circumstances that follow. There's a certain freedom that comes with letting go in situations you can't control.

Our discussions in the days leading up to the retreat were heavily centered around scrapping our existing website and launching an entirely new version. We had started to realize that our current site was woefully inadequate for our marketing needs, and if Sky Tripping was going to make a real impact in people's lives, we needed to quickly and effectively communicate the value of our service, starting with the messaging on our website. This task was competing against other priorities, however, and top of the list was further expanding our library of aerial films. 

At this point we hadn't yet proven the business's viability, so spending thousands to replace a lost investment didn't seem like the most prudent decision. The options that remained seemed clear: wallow in misery over our unexpected loss, or channel that energy and emotion toward improving and marketing the business we'd developed up to this point.

Looking back and seeing what we were able to achieve in the weeks that followed is nothing short of inspiring. We developed and launched an entirely new website in days. We reached out to Apple and introduced the newest version of our app. We doubled down on our plan to host local meet-ups to share health and wellness education within our communities. It was easy to forget the disaster we faced only weeks prior. We were buried in productivity. We had become a well-oiled machine. It's almost as if the acceptance of our recent disaster allowed us to also let go of the anxiety that was killing our will to market and grow the business. Our misfortune, paradoxically, focused our sense of purpose. 

Our aim here at Sky Tripping is simple: we want to help people relax. This desire isn't born out of some momentary, ecstasy-induced mantra we experienced at a rave the night before last. Over the past 5 years, we've discovered the power of relaxation, positive stress-management, meditation, calmness, and peace in helping restore our capacity to focus and work effectively in our daily lives. Before I give the wrong impression, these aren't the only benefits of or reasons for taking time for ourselves — but we've nonetheless found tremendous benefit from setting aside the time necessary to refocus our mind and retune our bodies. If it has worked for us, it will undoubtedly work for others. Sky Tripping is designed specifically to make it easy to make room for these benefits. Nature is proven to have measurable, substantial benefits for your mental, physical, and emotional health, even when it is experienced through images. You don't have to take that 50 mile backcountry adventure in order to experience the restorative benefits of nature — you can do it right in your own living room, in the subway on the way to work every morning and afternoon, or while sitting in a cubicle at the office. Taking even a few minutes every day can have profound, compounding, and positive effects in your life. That's our biggest motivation!


Calming Aerial Videos

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So here we are. It's been less than a month since our good fortune (disguised as disaster) struck, and we're already seeing huge payoffs that have accompanied our willingness to embrace the more positive aspects of our circumstances. Just last week Apple featured our Sky Tripping app in their "New Apps We Love" category. Immediately we saw sales jump by more than ten times. Needless to say, this was a huge win for our team after working so hard for the better part of a year to get this life-changing service to our customers. We're not raking in millions yet (far from it), but that's not really our primary goal, either. The thing we're really celebrating is the solid affirmation that this service is valuable, useful, and built to a high enough standard to garner the attention of the most well-respected brand on the planet.  

So it's time to take it to the next level.  We are so grateful for all of the people who have supported us this far, and for the amazing responses we've received from those discovering our service for the first time. We can't wait to give back, so we've decided to launch our Stress-Busting $3k Giveaway. This is your chance to win the latest Apple TV, a 50" flat screen television, a caseload of chocolate, killer luxury sleep products from Malouf and Saranoni to help you rest better, and some exclusive Sky Tripping swag to top it all off. We even have runner-up prizes to increase your odds of winning. 

We're so excited to discover the world with the Sky Tripping community and hope this helps you take time to relax a little more every day. Sign up at the contest page now, and remember that unexpected events can also mean unexpected opportunities.  

Safe travels, happy health, and best of luck winning the giveaway!