Abington LaunchBox business accelerator supports student’s drone firm

Abington drone business owner LaunchBox

Penn State Abington sophomore Nino Efendic. 

Credit: Penn State Abington

ABINGTON, Pa. — The Penn State Abington LaunchBox, an early-stage business accelerator, is supporting an Abington student who owns a commercial drone business.

Sophomore Nino Efendic operates Aerial Prospex, which provides progress reports, inspections, and photogrammetry to the commercial real estate, construction, and engineering industries. He started consulting with LaunchBox and its director, Peter Hornberger, in the spring of 2019. 

“LaunchBox is helping me with putting my business plan on paper and targeting the right customers through different exercises,” Efendic said. “It’s helping me figure out the right language to use and selecting the right people so I get a response.”

This semester, Efendic is collaborating with students in MGMT 425 New Venture Creation. Students enrolled in the course, which is taught by Hornberger, operate as consultants for real-life clients, including Efendic and Aerial Prospex. 

“Students are providing research into industries, finance and markets so Nino can make informed decisions about his business,” Hornberger said. “They are functioning as consulting teams for real businesses instead of working on academic exercises. We work with real businesses via LaunchBox and with students to launch their businesses.”

“The stakes are higher now for the student consulting teams,” he continued. “We made it very real for the students. It’s active learning. It’s more of a lab than an academic space.”

Efendic is not the only student entrepreneur engaging with the Abington LaunchBox.

“There is a very good entrepreneurial climate at Abington," said Hornberger. "This is not a typical campus community since so many students are commuters, but we have a strong base of entrepreneurs here. We are giving these student entrepreneurs a space to interact.”

LaunchBox Abington student

A drone from Aerial Prospex took this image of Philadelphia highways.

Credit: Aerial Prospex Inc.

Efendic, who is a first-generation college student, became interested in drones about five years ago when his mentor gifted him a drone that wasn’t working.

“I fixed it and sold it, and bought another one and sold that, and upgraded from there. I got into it when it was more expensive,” he said. “I used all my money, and it crashed. That led me to go commercial because I knew the drone was going to have to pay for itself.”

Last summer Efendic secured his pilot’s license, liability insurance, and registered Aerial Prospex as a business.

“I feel like I have the intuition to take good photos,” he said.

Since he will be heading to University Park in the fall to complete his degree in mechanical engineering, Efendic is looking at businesses in the State College area. 

“I am targeting everyone and everything from wedding photographers to cinematography and oil companies to solar and wind farms, but I really want to focus on commercial real estate and construction and engineering,” he said.

About the Penn State Abington LaunchBox

The Penn State Abington LaunchBox is an early-stage business accelerator. As a signature program of Invent Penn State, it partners with a network of resources to offer continuing support to entrepreneurs and guide them through their startup journey.

The Abington LaunchBox’s goal is to engage the community, entrepreneurs, and students to enhance the vibrancy of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. A key focus of this initiative will be on creating a culture of innovation around the LaunchBox to increase the number of entrepreneurs in the community.

About Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible, and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With about 3,700 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 21 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more.