Steve Sliwa, former CEO of UAV maker Insitu, is scheduled to give the keynote speech at the Bend Venture Conference on Oct. 17.
When Steve Sliwa became the CEO of Insitu Inc. in 2001, he was one of four employees at a rural company that generated no revenue.
By the time he
left the Bingen, Washington-based unmanned aerial vehicle maker a decade later, Insitu
, a subsidiary of Boeing Co., had grown to more than 800 employees and $400 million in revenue.
On Oct. 17, Sliwa plans to share his
story during the 11th annual Bend Venture Conference
at the Tower Theatre.
"One of the key things is, we adapted our business model so our business model was as innovative as our technology," said Sliwa, who's the founder and CEO of the Seattle company Seeq Corp, which helps businesses analyze data.
Instead of selling UAVs like its competitors, Sliwa
found a new niche - selling video or images gathered from the UAVs.
Economic Development for Central Oregon, which manages the BVC
, has been working to make the region a hub of unmanned aviation technology.
And with the inclusion of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in one of six national testing sites for unmanned aerial vehicles, Sliwa
sees no reason why it can't become one.
"You can't build robotic airplanes without lots of experimentation," he
"You can only do so much in the laboratory.
You have to get out there and exercise the system."
said having the test range close to Bend is a huge advantage.
gave this piece of advice to BVC participants: Investors are going to be looking for a company that solves a problem, as opposed to a company that has invented something and is trying to find someone to buy it.
"We had the idea (at Insitu) that we might be able to help the military. … We said the real problem is they want the imagery, so why don't we sell them that, and we'll make the technology to give it to them," he
But another key component of success, Sliwa
said, is a little luck.
"Nobody has significant success without having some luck along the way," he