Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Ben Harris, CEO of National Drones.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
The real world is incredibly complex. Businesses across resources, utilities and infrastructure that rely upon physical assets have traditionally been at a disadvantage when it comes to digital transformation. At National Drones, we provide end-to-end drone services to these industries allowing them to work safer, work faster and work smarter through our ability to collect and visualise aerial data.
Through the application of data capture via aerial intelligence, our visualisation technology enables businesses and public services to take advantage of drone-captured data for predictive analytics, detecting issues ahead of time and helping improve worker safety. We believe this technology is the future for any business with physical assets, and so we provide drone training with Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approved training instructors as well as franchising opportunities for ambitious Australians.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We recently completed a successful capital raise, bringing a number of experienced private investors into the business. These include Tozer and Co, Bob Every (former Wesfarmers chairman), Simon Henderson (partner, Bain & Company) and Matthew Dellavedova (a championship winning NBA basketball star – currently playing for the Milwaukee Bucks).
Drones, from a hardware perspective, have never been more capable. Our focus as a business has therefore been on developing proprietary software for analysis and visualisation of drone-based imagery. This latest investment will build upon our existing 3D and 2D visualisation technology in particular with aspirations to advancing this to even more intelligent means utilising machine learning, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Our biggest challenge is being able to predict our clients needs before they do.
There are many advantages of being a first mover into an emerging market, however it does require more time to be spent analysing data and trends, and really honing in on what the biggest opportunities are for our clients. We’re constantly striving to proactively be able to reach out to our clients with real solutions, before they come to us with those needs.
How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?
Unlike our competitors, we are offering a full end to end service with the aim to help our physical-asset heavy customers truly digitally transform – making them able to work safer, harder and smarter. Rather than focus on a specific service or vertical, we offer a user-friendly platform that can adapt to the needs of multiple industries.
Our core product offering is our software platform which enables the visualisation of drone-based imagery in the form of 3D models, 2D orthomosaics, and high-resolution inspection images. This will enable companies to link our visualisation software to asset management databases, allowing the creation of a ‘digital twin’ or model of these complex real-world assets.
The software differs from existing products in that it then enables artificial intelligence analysis and machine learning to be driven from a web-based browser environment, allowing companies to minimise their on-site IT infrastructure and collaborate across projects and sites. This lets businesses predict issues before they might arise, be smarter about how and when they conduct maintenance on critical assets, make insurance loss adjustments, enable precision agriculture and so much more.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
This would have to be a tie between Google Maps and Uber Eats!
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
“People are often more willing to act based on little or no data than to use data that is a challenge to assemble.”
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