The drone industry appears to be at the beginning of its tween years. There are several indications of this: the Super Bowl featured drones at half time; drones play a prominent role in Fox’s new police drama APB; recent company acquisitions and investments are continuing; and we are seeing start ups bring in seasoned executives in an effort to take their companies to the next level. One of those seasoned CEOs is George Mathew, who recently took the helm at an early player in the commercial drone space, Kespry. We recently spoke with Mr. Mathew about the company, the industry, and the future. Following is a summary of that conversation.
George Mathew noted that the “drone sector is strewn with broken toys. A lot of people have been suffering, because they cannot control aspects of hardware and software. Kespry delivers a fully-integrated hardware and software experience. We have taken a fully autonomous approach from the get go. Others are just now thinking, ‘What if we automate . . .’ We are already there. The market needs fully-autonomous solutions that work.”
Mathew was drawn to Kespry, because he found their key business purpose a compelling one. He explained their solution citing aggregates as an example. Kespry provides “a fully-automated drone that can fly a mission around an asset without the need of a joystick. A field manager can use an iPad, draw a polygon on the area to be assessed, autonomously fly the drone over that area to capture higher resolution imagery, ship the captured data off the iPad to the cloud, and in less than an hour convert that imagery into a variety of analytic reports.”
Mathew comes to Kespry from the self-service data analytics firm Alteryx, where as President he defined and carried out market solutions and expanded them across a variety of use cases. He brings that experience and expertise to Kespry where his “primary focus will be largely around industry expansion, expanding use cases, and overseeing product evolution on the data analytics side.” To date, the lion’s share of Kespry’s business has been in aggregates. Mathew plans for “a heavy push into the insurance sector,” where they would provide a similar subscription end-to-end solution.
Mathew explained that Kespry also controls the hardware side. “We designed [our drone] from scratch. The challenge is that the drones in the mass market are not ready for the rugged, industrial use cases (e.g. wind speeds of 25 mph) and scale of what we are working on. To do what we want requires tight integration and control of the hardware and software stack. We are not opposed to an off-the-shelf drone in the future, but that is unlikely to happen in the next year.”
Market challenges are beginning to fall and legal roadblocks have been reduced, says Mathew. The challenge at the moment is presenting a solution that can be understood and accepted by potential clients that are used to “status quo” ways of conducting their business. Kespry’s process, he explains, is less risky and more accurate than having personnel in the field manually measuring stockpiles, for example. Industrial-oriented use cases are ripe for disruption. “We want to be a leading participant in driving that forward.”
“There has been a lack of focus on end-to-end turnkey solutions, specifically industrial cases,” Mathew said. Kespry delivers that, and in doing so reduces the friction of drone adoption.
He views a “4th industrial age” coming, one brought about by the advent of a network of sophisticated sensors. Mathew believes being in a position to capture the data and analytics coming off that sensor network will be a differentiating factor in this new age and one that provides Kespry with “the opportunity to build a world class aerial intelligence platform.”