When all these groups needed problems solved they turned to 27-year-old Paris Cockinos.
Paris’ company Sphere Drones, headquartered in the Sydney suburb of Alexandria, is on the cutting edge of delivering specialised drone technology to some of Australia’s most important organisations.
For mining giant Rio Tinto, Paris’ company trains workers to fly specialised drones to inspect crushing equipment, along conveyor belts and also to measure how much iron ore is sitting within stockpiles.
“The cost savings are generous. But there is a key focus on removing people from hazardous and risky environments,” Paris says. “That is an extremely big win.”
Paris has come a long way for a boy from Coogee who started his entrepreneurial life selling cans of soft drink from his school locker.
“My mum would buy me a block of 24 Coca-Cola cans for 50 cents each and I would sell them out of my locker for two dollars,” he says.
Customer centric approach
Paris was first interested in technology in his family’s two-way radio workshop, where his dad would maintain equipment for clients such as Qantas, Virgin and SNP Security who monitors Sydney Airport.
The company started in 2012, when he was at University of New South Wales studying design and engineering and trying to supplement his costs thinking “what is the quickest way to make a buck?”.
19 year-old Paris borrowed $10,000 from his Dad, imported six drones from China and quickly sold them to hobbyists.
By Christmas he’d imported and offloaded 100 more.
When a university tutor introduced Paris to a contact at Sydney Water involved in exploring drone technology it lead the young student to designing a drone that sampled and checked the quality of water.
“I designed a water sampler system,” he says. “And the development team at Sphere spun out of that.”
The development team now includes six hardware developers and four software developers.
And that same team is also in the process of building out Sydney Water’s latest drone program.
“I’m looking at that first Sydney Water drone sitting in the office as a bit of an ornament,” Paris says.
“It has gone through three iterations and continues to be developed as a part of research and development grants.”
Sphere now supports some of Australia’s largest corporations and government organisations through developing and maintaining their drone programs.
Paris has a customer centric approach that focuses not only on current requirements but helping develop for future uses within that organisation.
He says the business is built on keeping customers over the long term, maintaining drone fleets and helping solve problems.
Questions that many of us would think of as science fiction are just another thing to spit-ball in the office between Paris and his team.