Small Business Spotlight: ConnexiCore
November 11 marks Veterans Day, a time to celebrate the brave military personnel who have served in the United States Armed Forces. According to a 2017 report from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the country for the total number of veteran-owned businesses (97,969). This number includes Pike County’s ConnexiCore, a drone solutions provider. We spoke with Frank Segarra, ConnexiCore’s President and CEO and a Navy vet, to learn how his passion for technology led him to start a business that is growing with support from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and its partners.
When did you develop a passion for technology?
Technology has always fascinated me. Growing up, CB (citizens band) radios were rising in popularity, and I convinced my parents to install a small one in our family car. I also wanted to place one in my bedroom, which required mounting an antennae onto the house. My parents weren’t too thrilled about the idea, but ambition got the best of me, and I did it anyway. As CB radio technology advanced, the radio waves became more populated, making it harder to speak with friends who were more than a mile away. Frustrated, I used this roadblock to advance my skills and discovered how to amplify my radio’s internal circuitry to quadruple its power outage. Shortly after, I found myself talking to folks around the world and even began collecting postcards from the people I met over the radio.
After high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy to study Avionics Engineering aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and spent four years in the service honing my tech expertise and seeing the world. In 2001, I joined a national audiovisual systems integrator for nine years until I was recruited by a venture capitalist-funded software startup that grew into a multimillion-dollar corporation. After some time, the company wasn’t able to keep up with the pace of advancing technology — but I knew I could. I resigned and jumpstarted ConnexiCore.
At ConnexiCore, we provide commercial drone flight services to clients nationwide, ranging from architecture and construction to agriculture and telecommunications. We also consult on artificial intelligence, asset management software, and drone operations. We’re headquartered in Milford, but with some help from DCED and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP), we’re able to make plans for nationwide growth.
How has DCED helped ConnexiCore?
ConnexiCore has a national network of 51 remote pilots, and we’re aiming to increase that number to 200 by the end of 2018. To succeed, we’ll need to recruit certified pilots, enter the market as a company with a national presence, and produce a cloud-based platform to connect with clients across the country. A recent investment from BFTP/NEP, an initiative of DCED, will help us do just that.
Last summer, BFTP/NEP selected 10 businesses for an early-stage company investment to spur economic development within the region. ConnexiCore was able to secure $100,000 for building national brand awareness and executing marketing initiatives like establishing a social media presence to connect with fans and updating our website to be more user-friendly. We’re getting our name out there — all thanks to DCED and BFTP/NEP.
What is on the horizon?
We’re going to look for ways to continue expanding and providing quality drone services for our clients. The long-term goal is to launch our services globally, but we’ll need to secure more funding first. We’ve been invited to participate in BFTP’s Venture Idol, a cross between Shark Tank® and American Idol®, this November to meet and pitch several angel investors.
Personally, I am hoping to start a new trend in technology and set the precedent for the state’s northeast region. I’d love to see a domino effect in innovation and design — we need those skills to stay competitive in this industry. Hopefully my story and journey will inspire someone else to take charge of their aspirations and make their business dreams a reality. Pennsylvania is a great place to live and work, and the state has so many resources for startups. Sometimes, all you need is that extra push.
The Small Business Spotlight is a monthly series which highlights businesses and entrepreneurs positively impacting their local community. Interested in starting your own business or looking for advice on your current business operation? Visit the PA Business One-Stop Shop to learn more about operating and growing a business in PA. Continue to stay up-to-date with all of Pennsylvania’s latest news and program announcements by signing up for our monthly e-newsletter or following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Frank Segarra is the founder and CEO of ConnexiCore. He has 27 years of IT, telecommunications, and aviation industry experience and was a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier airman specializing in Avionics Engineering. As a thought leader in drone technology, Frank is a founding member and co-chair of the CompTIA Drone Advisory Council.