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Drone Delivery Entrepreneurship 101 with Dr Shian Lee from AlphaSwift

31 AUG 2023

Interview by AJE

On the 66th year of Malaysian Independent Day (Hari Merdeka) we are delighted to cover one of the most interesting drone delivery companies in Malaysia, AlphaSwift. We had the privilege to interview the co-founder and CEO of the company, Dr Shian Lee. As a drone (delivery) entrepreneur and specialist with a Ph.D. in Aeronautical engineering from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. He is considered an authority in the development and application of drone technology in logistics in Asia. It is noteworthy to mention that the aerospace industry in Malaysia has produced many success stories among the world's largest Low-Cost Carrier Airline AirAsia founded by internationally recognized entrepreneur Tony Fernandes and World's largest Drone As A Service (DAAS) company, Aerodyne Group co-founded by the serial entrepreneur Kamarul A. Muhamad. Hence, making the Malaysian aerospace market sophisticated and mature with a high entry barrier for startups. What was the triggering point that made you take the decision to found the drone delivery startup AlphaSwift, and what drives you to continue leading this ambitious project? I found there are no companies that build delivery drones in Malaysia, and during the COVID-19 lockdown, we can see that the logistics market is unable to cope with our demands, further needing this technology. Civilization requires two things to flow to flourish. Money and goods. I am improving the flow of goods to help bring civilization to the next level. Think of it as a silk road in the sky.

Over the past 1 year, what have been the most successful moments and challenges for AlphaSwift? Success: 400 hours of flight tests with our delivery drone. We flew for more than 11000 km. Challenges: Product development while making sure the cash flow is healthy. So how does your drone delivery platform differentiate from other drone delivery companies? Other drone delivery companies are focused on one niche, such as medical delivery only, or food delivery only, and most of them are better at lighter payloads. Alphaswift wants to build a general heavy-payload aircraft that can carry anything. Think of a truck in the sky.

How does the actual delivery take place, e.g., stationary container, land and drop, or winch? Our drones will land on the platform and release the payload. We are working closely with the regulators and key suppliers of this system.

What is the most exciting project you have been running in the past 6 months? For the past 6 months, we have been working with Petronas to optimize our cargo delivery drone for offshore oil rigs. What are the latest updates and news from AlphaSwift you would like to share with us? We are moving to a new workplace with more space. We will be assembling hybrid-powered drones and bringing them to the market. One lesson you would like to share with young entrepreneurs in the drone delivery industry? Find your Own Niche. The market is big, and Competitors Can Become Partners. It is always great to hear the facts about the drone delivery industry from someone who has both experienced the academic and business world. If you are interested to know more about AlphaSwift please do not hesitate to drop Dr Shian Lee a message on LinkedIn.

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