YI Erida

YI Erida drone exec Ye Song “not afraid of competition”

Ye Song is the president and cofounder of YI Technology, which makes everything from action cameras that compete with the GoPro to home cameras to dash cameras.

And now, YI Technology is making the leap into aerial cameras with the launch of YI Erida, a carbon fiber drone that it claims can fly for up to 40 minutes at speeds of up to 75 mph. 

We caught up with cofounder Ye Song about her business philosophy:

Ye Song

Ye Song is the president and cofounder of YI Technology, maker of the YI Erida drone.

Drone Girl: What brought you into the drone community?

Ye Song: I’m in the industry because I co-founded YI Technology three years ago. Our mission was to create the best camera for consumers. We have several product lines including home cameras and dash cameras. It simply makes sense to put them into the air.

One of the most active use cases for our action camera was people using them for aerial photography. Going into the drone business has been a natural expansion of our other businesses.

DG: Your drone will be called YI Erida and it looks pretty different from the quadcopters we’re used to. What can we expect from it?

YS: The main differences are flight time and speed. This is the fastest tricopter in the world.

DG: And then there’s the design you don’t see too often — just three rotors.

YI Erida

YI Erida drone

YS: Because it’s more lightweight, it can fly faster. It’s also 100% carbon fiber. Making a drone lighter is challenging. Every drone maker is trying to do that.

DG: Why are other drone companies not using carbon fiber?
YS: Working with carbon fiber in mass manufacturing is very hard and requires a strong understanding of composite materials. The industry has seen some companies using carbon for hand-made professional drones, an there is wide use of basic carbon tubes in some parts of consumer drones — mainly the legs. But making the full drone out of high-end carbon is simply very challenging to do in a cost-effective way.

DG: Before you became president and co-founder of YI Technology, what were you doing?

YS: I had a management position in the semiconductor industry. Then I studied business and management at Stanford, which gave me general management skills and a good understanding of Silicon Valley. That motivated me to start a company of my own.

DG: What’s your advice for other leaders, particularly female leaders in a male-dominated industry.

YS: You’re in a powerful position, but it’s also challenging. And especially when it’s challenging, it’s important to believe in yourself. But if it’s challenging, that means it is something worth doing. If it’s not, then why bother?

YI Erida

YI Erida


DG: Are you worried about the competition, giving how many drones are out on the market, whether it’s drones from established companies like DJI and GoPro’s upcoming Karma, to drones from newer startups like Teal?

YS: Not at all. It’s a challenging business with so many brands about there. But it’s about committment and passion, and what really matters is what kind of value your company brings to the table. We are not afraid of competition.

The YI Erida drone was unveiled September 7 at InterDrone, but is not yet available on the market. Pricing details are expected to be announced later this year.

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