My Curalate Internship Story: Drones, Transparency and My Name in the Newspaper

My Curalate Internship Story: Drones, Transparency and My Name in the Newspaper

Originally posted on August 17, 2017 on the Curalate Blog.

First Day at Curalate

I remember returning home after my first day of work at Curalate. I had just come back from a welcome dinner for the class of new hires. I pulled out my company-issued laptop and began to explore the Curalate dashboard. I felt a rush of excitement as I discovered all of the clients that Curalate works with, and how the software allows brands to source user-generated content and product tag photos and videos. I knew I was in for a terrific summer.

Idea: Make Drone Imagery Clickable

While I joined Curalate as a software engineer intern, I’m also an FAA Part 107 certified drone pilot. I even started my own business Philly By Drone, taking aerial, panoramic photos of the city and its real estate.

I discovered that one of Curalate’s clients was Allan Domb Real Estate. After navigating the company’s website, I noticed that it relied on 2D maps to pinpoint apartments it brokered in Center City Philadelphia. Then I had an idea: let’s combine an aerial drone shot image of downtown Philly with Curalate’s Reveal technology, allowing us to tag each luxury apartment building in the Allan Domb portfolio.

But how could I get this done? I’m only an intern — will other team members think I’m stepping on their toes? Is this even a good idea?

So I found the client partner (Brenden Krewer) and requested a meeting. Within 30 minutes, I was in a meeting with Brenden to discuss the idea. He made time for me even though his calendar was booked solid. It’s just indicative of the the fast-paced culture at Curalate that I really love. They see a good idea and they go right after it. I also messaged Curalate’s CEO Apu Gupta, and he made time for me — even though his schedule is always jam packed. Apu brought in Max Hjelm (business development) and Luke Butler (Strategy and Operations), and listened intently to my idea and told me to go for it.

Soon I got a meeting with the marketing director at Allan Domb Real Estate and provided them with the newly actionable drone photos. By my fifth week at Curalate, the Allan Domb reveal was live on their home page. Check it out below:

Working Cross-Functionally with the Content Marketing Team

Meanwhile, I had gotten to know Jared Shelly, Manager of Content Strategy. He’s in charge of writing the case studies, blog posts, guides and other marketing content for Curalate. I had remembered reading through a lot of his writing when I was recruiting for Curalate, and I deeply admired his work. He was impressed with the content I had created for Allan Domb and invited me to brainstorm a new project around drones and Curalate’s technology. I was thrilled to do some cross-functional work. Here I am a software engineering intern getting a chance to work with the marketing department. Let’s do this.

July 4th Drone Revolve

Jared and I kicked around some ideas. We knew Independence Day was coming up and that the holiday attracts thousands of tourists to Philadelphia. We’ve got the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and everything seems to be named after Ben Franklin. Why not apply my drone panoramas with Curalate’s Revolve technology to showcase all the best places to watch the July 4 fireworks? If we just tagged each location the same way Curalate clients tag products in their imagery, it could be a great resource for the thousands of people watching the fireworks display on the Delaware River waterfront.

Interestingly, the Curalate crew had already gone home for a long holiday weekend. But Jared and I took care of it ourselves. No need to ask any higher ups. No need to get permission. We just took the initiative and ran with it. I shot the footage from 226 feet up then tagged each location. Check it out below. Go ahead, click drag and have a look at the city:


Spreading the Word

So how do we publicize our new technology? Jared wrote up this blog post to tell our audience about it. Then we reached out to the media and got some amazing feedback. Billy Penn shared the blog post with their large Twitter audience, and Technically Philly wrote this article about the project.

Then the Philadelphia Inquirer (Philly’s largest newspaper) called us to do a story. Even though Curalate had given us Monday and Tuesday off, I still went to meet with the Inquirer staff and pretty soon, we had an article in that publication too.

The news coverage yielded some interesting stats: Of the 4,000 people who saw the drone Revolve online, there were over 4,000 outbound clicks. Several hundred people had even turned the photo 180 degrees to click on the One Liberty Observation Deck — meaning they were seriously engaged with the interactive image.

It feels great that Curalate encourages employees to bring up new ideas, and the founders are willing to listen and offer opinions. Even though in my day-to-day role I was a software engineer, there are so many opportunities for cross-collaboration. In my opinion, that’s critical to helping employees develop wide-ranging skill sets. My internship has been an amazing learning experience. I’ve learned not only from my engineering team and manager, but also from the CEO, CTO, content marketing director, and business development director. This summer has been a blast!