When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Blake Resnick, Founder and CEO of Brinc Drones, knew his company could help the Ukrainian cause.
In a matter of weeks, Brinc donated $150,000 worth of its LEMUR drones to aid Ukraine, and his firm overcame massive logistical obstacles to send the equipment to the war-torn nation. The first shipments arrived in late March.
Since then, Brinc has been producing more and more drones and selling them to NATO entities, who are, in turn, supplying them to the Ukrainian effort. The drones are being used for search and rescue missions, reconnaissance, and more.
“For us, it gets back to the founding of this company,” Resnick explained.
Resnick started Brinc in the wake of the October 2017 mass shooting at an outdoor music festival in his hometown of Las Vegas. Following the tragedy, the then-17-year-old Resnick reached out to local law enforcement to offer his help. In time, he developed a drone that could quickly respond to emergency situations and provide timely, accurate information. Since then, the system has been adopted by hundreds of governments and public safety agencies worldwide.
“After the shooting happened in my hometown, I decided to build technology to save lives,” Resnick stated. The war in Ukraine, he said, is “another opportunity for our technology to fulfill that mission.”
For the Ukrainian effort, Resnick and his Brinc colleagues had to move quickly and navigate a complex series of logistical and governmental hurdles. “It was really hard to actually get systems into Ukraine,” he reported. Initially, the plan was to ship the drones from Brinc’s Las Vegas manufacturing plant to LAX, where they would be flown to Germany then shipped to Poland and then transferred into Ukraine.
“That was the original plan,” Resnick said, “but when the hardware got into Germany, there was a period when the German government was uncomfortable about allowing aid shipments to go through their borders.” As a result, the shipments were flown from Germany back to LAX.
At this point, “we had to send our VP of Operations to drive overnight from Vegas to LAX to grab all the stuff,” said Resnick. “He took it all and shoved it in some boxes, but customs went through it in Germany and stuff was damaged.” Ultimately, Brinc’s equipment—some of it in disrepair—made it to Ukraine.
“One of the things we've been dealing with is shipping them replacement parts and teaching them how to repair the battery connectors so that they’re functional,” he reported. “Another line of effort has been getting many more orders from NATO countries to donate to Ukraine.”
Resnick credits his Chief of Staff, Andrew Coté for his efforts to help Brinc’s fulfill its commitment to Ukraine. “He used to be Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in charge of Special Operations Command, where he did a lot of similar missions,” he stated. “He’s been a tremendous help.”
Resnick also believes that the start-up mindset of his company has made it possible to meet the mission.
“Being a startup helps because we can throw our weight behind a specific objective and then people's jobs can totally change,” he said. “It's like, ‘Don't worry about that for now, let's focus on the Ukraine support mission.’ And then that becomes all they do for the next couple of months.”
As the war continues, Brinc is committed to supporting Ukrainian operations. “We have more trainings coming up in Europe, and the number of systems we have to get into the country now has escalated a lot,” Resnick reported. “It’s even more challenging logistically, but at least we learned a little bit from the first iteration of this.”
In addition to training programs and increasing drone shipments, Brinc is looking to set up on-the-ground operations in Europe. “One thing we're seriously considering is actually building a field repair center in Poland,” he stated. “We’re looking at finding some warehouse space and getting some of our technicians in country so that if our systems get damaged to the point that field repairs are impossible, we're able to get them back and turn them quickly.”