In August 2017, Eric Peck and Josh Tepper embarked on a new business venture; their goal was to transform the way the world moves medical supplies, using drones. This goal was premised on the saddening fact that 50% of the world’s population lacks access to basic healthcare. Swoop Aero was founded on the principle that everyone deserves access to basic healthcare. Co-founders, Eric and Josh, developed an aeromedical logistics solution that enables access to places that ground transport can’t reach, safely, reliably and sustainably.
Fast-forward to 2020 and Swoop Aero has now operated across three continents and conducted hundreds of flights, which have delivered medical supplies to those in need. The company continues to expand its operations, and as we enter this exciting phase of Swoop Aero’s growth, we thought it was only appropriate to introduce the founding members of the Swoop Aero enterprise. Eric and Josh have worked tirelessly to try and make the goal of universal healthcare access a reality. Their sustained efforts and work ethos have driven the success of Swoop Aero’s operations and fostered an inclusive, exciting and dynamic team environment at the Swoop Aero headquarters in Port Melbourne, Australia.
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”Richard Branson
Eric began his career in the military. He was a pilot in the Australian Air Force. After first training to be a fast jet pilot, Eric moved across to the Hercules C130. His exemplary aviation skill set led him to complete multiple tours of the Middle East, where he became a highly experienced Air Force Commander. After nine year in this role, Eric decided to look for a new challenge in the world of business. After completing a Master’s of Business Administration, Eric embarked upon a career as a management consultant, first in Sydney for a boutique consulting firm and then in Melbourne for Deloitte. As a strategy & operations management consultant, Eric discovered his passion for solving complex problems. This was how Eric came to focus on one of the greatest issues hampering global development, global health inequality, and decided to try and solve it.
Eric’s aviation expertise, combined with his strong vision for the future of Swoop Aero, has helped him lead the company through challenging times and emerge a leading player on the international drone delivery stage. Outside of work, Eric enjoys sailing, spending time with family and friends, and the experience of immersing himself into the local culture when travelling to the areas where the Swoop team are operating.
“Think Big, Start Small”Onkar K. Khullar
After graduating from Monash University in Melbourne, Josh began his career as a mechatronics engineer. Prior to founding Swoop Aero, Josh led and developed highly sophisticated mechatronic systems for multi-million dollar organisations around the world. In addition, Josh established, “Leading Edge’, a UAS consulting and manufacturing company specialising in the development and operation of customised UAS solutions. At the same time, Josh became the world’s number 16 drone racing champion. His experience in complex aviation systems and knowledge of the UAV sector have been extremely important factors in Josh’s endeavour of building a system from scratch which is suitable for the types of medical deliveries in which Swoop Aero specialises.
Josh’s mechatronics expertise, combined with the aviation knowledge of his business partner Eric, has been invaluable in helping him to design and build a world-leading aviation software and hardware system. Outside of work, Josh is an avid rock climber, often spending his weekends scaling massive cliff faces around Australia and searching for his next climbing challenge. A self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, Josh also explores the suburbs of Melbourne at the weekends to suss out the best coffee spots.
The Founding Journey
Founding Swoop Aero has not always been an easy endeavour for Josh and Eric, and has often involved challenging times. Eric compares Swoop Aero founding story to the monumental challenges faced by the NASA team when developing Apollo 11. Indeed the average age of a NASA employee when the first man landed on the moon in 1969 (28) was the same as when Swoop Aero delivered the first vaccine by commercial drone.
The first conversations at the start of the founding journey focused on finding and designing the most practical and most sustainable operational cargo drone solution for humanitarian applications in remote areas. In the first months of business operations, Eric and Josh successfully designed a prototype service through to a commercially viable product. From here, progress was both exponentially fast but has also suffered frustrating setbacks and slowdowns along the way. Nonetheless, the system that has emerged is unique and at the forefront of its field. And there are more upgrades and improvements to come!
The first commercial operations of the company commenced in Vanuatu in December 2018. As Eric says, ‘this was a grounding experience’. The lack of basic amenities and ground infrastructure provided the Swoop Aero team an idea of the impact that could be had on the ground with their services, and the value they could bring to people’s lives. During these operations Swoop Aero delivered the first vaccine by commercial drone to South River, on Erromango Island, where Baby Joy was vaccinated. Since then, the company has come a long way, and now operates across Africa and Australasia as well.
We are proud of our impressive co-founders, and hope that their story will inspire others with a vision to disrupt the way the world does things to follow their dreams and carry through their ideas to reality.