Some stories are simply unbelievable. The Allianz Drone Racing League, which was drawn up during a meeting in a vacant lot behind a Home Depot in Long Island and now broadcasts to more 75 countries in just over three years, is one of those stories.
Enter Nicholas Horbaczewski, who before starting the league found success as the Chief Revenue Officer of Tough Mudder. In early 2015, Horbazewski left his job with the hopes of starting his own company.
“Whenever I’d talk to someone about the different startup concepts, their eyes would immediately light up when I mentioned drone racing,” Horbazewski says. “They’d start comparing the sport to Star Wars or their favorite video game from growing up and pitching ideas on how to develop it, what it could like, where the races could be held. It was those conversations that helped me realize that building DRL was a risk that I truly wanted to take.”
The desire to take that risk led Horbaczewski to a Home Depot with Ryan Gury, now the Director of Product for the Drones Racing League. Gury, prior to meeting with Horbaczewski, had been working on his own company called DroneKraft, in which working people could make their own high-performance drones, complete with first-person vision goggles. It took one meeting and a field test with a drone to dictate what Horbaczewski’s next move would be. In fact, Horbaczewski was so captivated that he later bought DroneKraft.
“I was captivated by the speed and excitement,” Horbaczewski says. “I immediately saw the potential for the sport to grow into something bigger than it was, and we got to work on building out the technology, media and sports ecosystem required to professionalize drone racing and bring it to a global fan base.”