THE BIG INTERVIEW: PrecisionHawk CEO Michael Chasen

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PrecisionHawk is aiming to expand its commercial drone services and drive harder into key industries after bagging more than $30m in private equity investment. CDP catches up with CEO Michael Chasen to discuss the challenges of raising funds and his outlook on the future.

What does the most recent round of funding mean to PH?

Our goal at PrecisionHawk is to provide customers with the most comprehensive suite of innovative drone services and analytics solutions. This funding will allow us to build on PrecisionHawk’s comprehensive strategy to strengthen its ability to deliver into the energy and agriculture markets. This includes a heighted focus on high-quality drone services, the development of PrecisionAnalytics and enabling capabilities related to artificial intelligence and machine learning.

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Ultimately this funding provides the ability to continue the education, innovation and partnerships that are required to foster the adoption of commercial drones.

How did it compare to previous funding rounds? Did it meet expectations?

We are pleased with this latest round of funding. We are confident that this round will lead us into sustained profitability and growth.

Our goal at PrecisionHawk is to provide customers with the most comprehensive suite of innovative drone services and analytics solutions”

Is it easy to get funding in the drone industry, given its rapid expansion?

While it is never easy to raise capital, there is a lot of interest in the drone space because there so much potential for expansion.

We are fortunate to have the backing of such a strong group of venture and strategic investors who see the potential for PrecisionHawk to enable enterprises around the world with new tools for 21st century opportunities. Their continued support speaks to the pace of PrecisionHawk’s growth, and what investors see as a growing business opportunity in commercial drone technology.

PH has had big success since you joined in 2017. What changes did you make on arriving?

Coming in to PrecisionHawk, it was obvious that the team had all of the building blocks that would be required to become the world leader in commercial drone technology. What we put in place upon my arrival in 2018 was the infrastructure to serve new markets and geographies around the globe and optimize the integration of our platform into existing business processes.

To build on its lead in the commercial drone space, we immediately raised capital to apply to strategic acquisitions and product innovation. In 2018 we made several acquisitions to build out a Drone Pilot Network, a platform to support the delivery of on-demand, drone-based imagery to enterprise clients.

We also invested heavily in our software offering. In 2019 we announced the launch of PrecisionAnalytics, an aerial mapping, modelling platform purpose build for the precision agriculture and energy industries. Using PrecisionAnalytics, business leaders can apply the latest generation of analytics tools and artificial intelligence (A.I.) to their aerial data. 

Like any other new technology, the adoption of drones across an enterprise is dependent on how well they support a business’ goals and strategy. The reality is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and PrecisionHawk has a unique and important role to play in working with businesses to identify their right fit.

I have been impressed with the strides we have taken to engineer a complete ecosystem that allows companies to gain valuable information across the data value chain.  

Can you tell us which of PH’s services are most profitable?

This is an exciting time for PrecisionHawk because we have an opportunity to focus for the next few years on building software that not just meets customer needs today, but is architected, designed and implemented in a way that meets the needs of our customer in the future.

In working with leading enterprises for nearly a decade, we have learned a tremendous amount about what they need to be successful. Our customers have consistently told us that they need a safer, more efficient and precise way to inspect their assets. PrecisionAnalytics is that solution. In applying advanced A.I. and machine learning, we can use drone technology to address the complexities of their industry- whether it be crop scouting or utility pole inspection.

Our customers have consistently told us that they need a safer, more efficient and precise way to inspect their assets. PrecisionAnalytics is that solution”

Any other industries/services you want to add to PH’s repertoire? What is the long-term plan for PH? Are you prioritising software over hardware and drone services?

PrecisionHawk is in the business of providing insights. Specifically deriving insights from drone-based aerial data. Enterprises rely on complex data value chains to enable large scale businesses intelligence, operations and service delivery. PrecisionHawk’s goal is to provide both software and services that make the data value chain more precise, efficient and safe.

The FAA also predicts a tripling of the drone industry’s size by 2023. How does PH plan on staying at the forefront during this boom?

It is very exciting to be at the forefront of one of the most important areas of technology innovation, but there is significant innovation in both technology and regulation that is ongoing. PrecisionHawk will continue to lead the way, assisting regulators and encouraging industry participants to adopt innovative policies and technologies that can support not only today’s drone use cases, but those of tomorrow

We believe that a Drone Pilot Network is one of the fundamental building blocks of a successful drone ecosystem, and we will continue to grow our drone pilot network and support the growth of the drone pilot economy.

We also believe that there is immense business value is in analytics and machine learning.  With our deep market expertise, we will continue to advance our PrecisionAnalytics platform to take the data that drones are collecting and turn it into actionable intelligence that our customers can leverage.

BIOGRAPHY: Michael Chasen

Michael Chasen took over as CEO of PrecisionHawk in 2017. The entrepreneur was previously CEO and co-founder of successful e-learning software company Blackboard. He also co-founded and is CEO of SocialRadar, a mobile app startup.

Read more about PrecisionHawk’s latest funding round here:

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