Advertisement
  1. Business

This 'SkyNinja' gets her kicks with drones high above Tampa Bay

Taylor Mitcham, 27, of Carrollwood, poses for a photograph while flying her drone Tuesday, April 24, 2018 in the Carrollwood area of unincorporated Hillsborough county. Mitcham, who runs SkyNinja, recently relocated the business to Tampa. SkyNinja specializes in construction and industrial drone work. CHRIS URSO | Times
Published May 5, 2018

CARROLLWOOD — Nearly 1,000 air miles stand between Pennsylvania and Tampa Bay, but Taylor Mitcham easily made the trek — thanks to a drone.

Mitcham opted to relocate her SkyNinja drone business from Philadelphia to Carrollwood last September. She arrived in the days after Hurricane Irma, and that allowed her to jump right in. She quickly partnered with T-Mobile to inspect their local cell towers post hurricane and worked with several insurance companies to use drone images to inspect roofs in the area.

Still the company's main sector remains in construction with the majority of clients utilizing drones to create real-life renderings, mapping, as well as 2D and 3D maps of areas. Inspection work comes in a close second.

Since moving to Tampa Bay, Mitcham has consulted on White House drone initiatives, spoken at CES conferences, and continues to take SkyNinja down the industrial sector of drones.

Yet when she was first asked about drone use on a project, she had no idea it would become such a major part of her life.

In 2015, her supervisors asked Mitcham to research the possible use of drones to help oversee the development of six gas terminals that would connect into the Dakota Access Pipeline.

At the time, she was serving as a project engineer at a major EPFC construction firm in North Dakota, and was soon tasked with starting the company's brand new drone program. The program quickly became a powerful tool for most, if not all, departments. Construction teams use drone images to keep clients up to date on progress. Supply chains utilize the images to keep track of materials on site.

Less than two years later, with an abundance of drone knowledge under her belt and an eye towards market needs, the Penn State graduate started SkyNinja. She originally launched in Pennsylvania and worked with companies to help them with mapping, monitoring, and inspection needs.

As the "founder and Chief Drone Ninja," Mitcham represents part of the 4 percent of women that work as drone pilots in the United States. As the driving force behind the startup, she recently earned the designation "Rising Star in Tech" by the Consumer Technology Association.

Now her presence is helping grow the drone industry in Carrollwood and Tampa Bay.

When asked why Tampa Bay, Mitcham cited three main reasons for the move. The first reason, and the most important, was climate. "Cold weather impacts battery life," she said, "so sometimes a cold climate will only allow 5 minutes of battery life and when you're flying 100 acres 5 minutes goes by fast."

The second reason was cost of living, but she mentions that although she was looking for a lower cost of living than what she faced in Philadelphia, she still wanted a place that had a lot going on.

The final reason was quality of life, so she looked for places that were full of options in terms of events and ongoings, and very importantly, a "real" airport. After much research, and many many spreadsheets, it came down to Tampa Bay and San Antonio.

Mitcham found that Tampa Bay just had more to offer, more promise for her startup, and as an added bonus – beautiful beaches.

"Business is good, this was definitely a good move," Mitcham said. "I love Tampa, business wise and happiness wise."

Contact Jennifer Lima at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Jessica LaBouve, a penetration tester for cybersecurity company A-LIGN, poses for a portrait in the A-LIGN office on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 in Tampa. Companies hire A-LIGN to figure out where their digital security weak spots are, and LaBouve is one of the "benevolent hackers" that finds them. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Jessica LaBouve of A-Lign works with companies to make their applications and platforms more secure.
  2. Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year. MARKUS SCHREIBER  |  AP
    The billionaire also talks trade with China in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
  3. The economies of Canada and Florida go together like, well, palm fronds and maple leaves, as seen outside the Sweetwater RV Resort in Zephyrhills. (Times file photo) KATE CALDWELL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    To qualify under the Canadian Snowbird Act introduced in Congress, the visitors would have to be older than 50 and would have to own or rent a home here.
  4. Tampa investor and owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning Jeff Vinik, right, speaks about his investments in the video game industry at the eSports Summit Wednesday in Tampa as Matt Samost, Vice President of New Ventures for Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment looks on. LUIS SANTANA   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A summit at USF brought together major players and explored the possibility of an esports arena.
  5. Neeld-Gordon Garden Center, open at this location since 1925, is closing on Sept. 28. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    The development of Pinellas County and the arrival of the big box stores helped hasten the store’s demise.
  6. 7-Eleven Inc. is opening its first location in a Brandon mall. Pictured is a location in Port Richey in 2018. | [Times (2018) TYLISA JOHNSON | TIMES  |  TyLisa Johnson | Times
    It is the first of eight mall locations opening this year.
  7. Tampa has a pilot program underway to test scooters. Clearwater could soon have one of its own. But if it's limited to downtown, who will use it? CHRIS URSO  |   Times
    The city’s plan is coming into focus, but there will be limitations.
  8. Pages from a confidential whistleblower's report obtained by The Associated Press, along with two printed Facebook pages that were active on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, are photographed in Washington. Facebook likes to say that its automated systems remove the vast majority of prohibited content glorifying the Islamic State group and al-Qaida before it’s reported. But a whistleblower’s complaint shows that Facebook itself has inadvertently produced dozens of pages in their names. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick) JON ELSWICK  |  AP
    A whistleblower’s complaint shows that the company has inadvertently provided the two extremist groups with a networking and recruitment tool.
  9. Pasco County community news TMCCARTY80  |  Tara McCarty
    Neighbors voice concerns about increased traffic, water quality and adhering to the county’s protections for northeast Pasco.
  10. This satellite image shows Hurricane Michael on Oct. 9, 2018, as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall near Mexico Beach in the Panhandle as a Category 5 storm. [Photo courtesy of NOAA] NOAA
    Nearly a year after the storm, 18,000 claims are still open.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement