A New Vision for Defense Hardware | Picogrid

Episode 34 of S³

Real warfare isn't like Call of Duty. There's no mini-map or interlinked communications and you can't just throw a camera out into the desert. Picogrid, and Cofounder and CEO Zane Mountcastle, is changing that in Episode 34 of S³

From the Desert to Developing New Systems

Shortly after college, Zane began working with the US Army Corps and the Naval Expeditionary Warfare Center to set up ISR payloads (Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) across various US military installations like the F35 test site featured in this episode.

As Zane says in the episode, “You can’t just throw a camera out in the desert,” You need a support system that can provide Power, Communications, and Compute to make your payload work.

While setting up various ISR payloads with standard support systems, primarily for the Air Force, Zane was consistently blown away by:

  • How unintuitive and slow these systems were

  • How expensive they were

  • The lack of interconnectivity with a central software hub

As a result, just a little over 2 years ago, Zane cofounded Picogrid with Martin Slosarik where they’ve since built 2 payload support products (Lander and Helios) that have been deployed in a variety of operations. How did Zane and Martin pull off such an impressive R&D and deployment cycle?

My friend Cameron Schiller, CEO and Cofounder of Rangeview, and former S³ feature, recently talked a lot with me about the idea of focus. I believe he said something along the lines of, “The best way you can prepare for the future is to give the present your total focus.” This personally struck home for me and I believe it explains Picogrid’s insane growth and productivity — they’re incredibly focused on their current mission of creating great support systems for ISR payloads.

An Agnostic Vision

In any military mission, a variety of products, systems, and people are often used in tandem to perform any given mission. Today, there is a distinct and clear lack of a software system that unifies the wide variety of assets used in missions.

Picogrid has a clear vision of what a better multi-product software system would look like for the government. They imagine it as open-ended, allowing others to connect with and build on top of it, versus a closed system that doesn’t play nice with others.

The current milestone focus for Picogrid is opening their software system up so other payload developers can easily integrate with it to provide the military customer with the best experience.

Desert Foxes & F35s

Picorgid’s Helios in use by the USAF.

Near the end of the episode, Zane describes how he’s consistently surprised by the breadth of applications customers have used Picogrid’s systems for. For example, at one of Picogrid’s largest installations, the US Air Force uses a variety of Lander systems for:

  • Perimeter monitoring

  • Tracking of endangered species (a requirement for the military)

  • Mission-related uses

  • Weather and fire watch

Zane and Martin are super focused on the right stuff. No fluff or distraction, just focused building and execution. Picogris is uniquely lasered inon building a great and robust solution to a problem its founders have personally felt.

Keep on building the future,

— Jason