We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeff Stein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeff, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My left brain was thirsty and I figured the creative freedom of owning my own drone company would satisfy both sides of the brain.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It was a long and arduous road to the creation of Drone Studios. I have always been an extremely hard worker and risk taker, graduating UCSB with a degree in Chemical Engineering, then working for multiple early-stage startups, and eventually starting my own pharmaceutical company which grew wayyy too fast and crashed even harder. I then represented the Western Region from Canada down to Mexico for an international biotech company that provided Nobel Prize winning mRNA technology for reprogramming adult cells into stem cells (iPSCs or induced pluripotent stem cells) which sounds like science fiction but it’s very real. I like to call it cellular alchemy. Through all of this, I have experienced a lot of amplitude with my successes and failures, and I know both sides all too well. Because of these experiences, I have proven my resilience and I feel like I can handle almost any situation with equanimity. Most of my failures were due to aspects that I had no control over, including markets and research and development results. I was honestly tired of having no control over my success, so I decided to change directions with my career all together and pursued the drone industry which seemed to me the perfect balance between technical and creative, and I always had a passion for creative expression as seen in my underground “Dudes vs Wild” extreme travel videos created in my mid 20s drinking snake blood, wrestling wild monkeys, eating black forest scorpions and sipping cobra whiskey. I have also been fascinated by aviation since I can remember. Lastly, I have to admit that all those hours playing video games growing up weren’t a total waste of time because the controls of FPS games like Halo made flying a drone feel natural on day 1.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Blacks Beach near the La Jolla gliderport, no question. It’s the most diverse beach experience once can have in San Diego for sure… Before the beach excursion, I would suggest picking up lunch in Midtown San Diego at Karina’s Ceviche or Rubicon Deli and packing it down to the beach for lunch under the sun. It’s a hike, so be prepared with backpacks and bring plenty of water. There’s also several trails to get to and from the beach and be prepared that the north end of the beach is fully nude, so just head south if you’re not comfortable with that aspect. Always an adventure at Blacks! As for the evening, I would suggest grabbing dinner somewhere in downtown San Diego, and highly recommend Little Italy. Lots of options there and great local vibes. Post-dinner I suggest seeing a show at downtown San Diego’s new Amphitheater on the bay, the “Rady Shell at Jacob’s Park.” Or if you’ve got a wild hair, hit the Gaslamp with roughly 100 bars, lounges, nightclubs, breweries, etc within a short distance of each other.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Definitely my parents and a select group of close friends due to their support, insight and encouragement. First, a special thanks to the very talented Iryna Sinanis for being my forever muse. Second, I would like to thank Matt Boyer who provided insight to the legal aspects specifically an early tip that the FAA was developing a new commercial drone license. Third would be my friend Michael Short who was running a real estate photography company at the time and provided me with my first paid drone gigs and made it real. Fourth would be KC Daters who provided advice on marketing the company. And lastly, my parents for their unconditional love and support when I was pivoting in life away from biotech and the medical field. Oh, and thanks to the thousands of friends that have cracked beers in the “Drone Lab” subjected to all our latest passion projects.
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