Adam Zayor, CEO of FlyGuys, Nationwide Drone Services

Adam Zayor, CEO of FlyGuys, an aerial drone services company based in Lafayette, LA, is our guest.

Attention to all angel investors….only 8% of commercial industries are currently using drone technology. The potential for dramatic increases in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, known as drones, is mind-boggling.

Fly Guys operates in all 50 states, in 72 countries worldwide, with over 4500 qualified and vetted contract drone pilots doing the work. It has 17 full-time employees overseeing operations and has experienced exponential annual growth of 200% per year for the past three years.

FlyGuys operates in a model similar to Uber; the company is responsible for contracting all jobs, and the pilots have their own drone equipment. “Our business is theoretically infinitely scalable in that we don’t incur costs until we have revenue coming in from a confirmed job. Contract pilots range from full-time professionals handling large scale jobs to part-time hobbyists who will capture footage for a commercial real estate site.”

The majority of FlyGuys’ clients are large-scale companies that need consistent data collected across the country, such as telecom companies installing cell towers. In this example, the towers need to be inspected periodically, especially when adding equipment upgrades. FlyGuys scans 500 to 1000 towers every month or two, taking imagery at different elevations. The engineers at the telecom company can pull together dimensions from the data collected and build-out designs for new devices utilizing AutoCAD (commercial computer-aided design and drafting software), thereby accurately engineering new devices.

Adam Zayor started his company in 2017 with two employees while he kept his day job with Cajun Constructors where he worked in heavy industrial project management. It was on that job in Lake Charles, while working on the SASOL project, that he was introduced to drone services. Cajun Constructors would utilize drone aerial footage to obtain imagery for marketing purposes; Adam realized quickly that the technology could be used for much, much more in handling dangerous and tedious tasks typically handled by human labor.

“From a young age, I always knew I wanted to be in business. I loved building and creating things. I have to say, I wasn’t as scared (about starting FlyGuys) as I should have been! I was a little blind about all the effort and the emotional toll that goes into starting a business. Especially one I was trying to drive in a new industry.” Adam Zayor when asked about his thoughts on jumping in full-time to run FlyGuys.

With his background in construction management overseeing up to 2000 employees at one time, Adam explained that drones can now replace project managers who walk sites three to four times per week to monitor progress. With a drone, you can capture orthomosaic images, which are high-resolution aerial images similar to Google-earth views, where you can zero in to analyze work in progress, all from the comfort of your office and computer.

Drones were first used for industrial flare stack inspections to get footage a worker couldn’t access by a crane. Today, as emerging software is being developed, it seems that the sky’s the limit (pun intended!) for the usage of drone technology.

The agriculture industry is projected to be the biggest user of drones, but it is still early in the game. Drones can assist in precision agriculture by detecting the height of plants, the health of the plants, and projected crop yield, all allowing accurate financial metrics to be computed. By detecting pests and diseases using multispectral cameras, the farmer can quickly gain insight into how to care for the plants and ensure accurate watering. The drone will fly as close as 5 feet to the plants and up to 400 feet overhead, depending upon the data needed. Adam said that twenty different companies have been funded to develop drone technology to keep up with the needs of the agricultural industry.

According to Adam Zayor, utilizing drones “not only mitigates the risk of having a human in the air, you’re eliminating the risk. From a safety perspective, it’s the best thing you can do.”

The insurance industry also benefits from drone services, particularly after natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires. Instead of sending out people to individually inspect 10,000 homes in a widespread area, a drone can map out an area for adjusters to inspect by computer. One proactive use of drones Adam recommends is to capture data of a home or structure when it is in good shape to establish a set digital model; then, if a catastrophic event occurs, you can capture new drone imagery to compare the structure post-event using computer algorithms to detect the changes. Adam predicts that one day, every single asset structure will be mapped on a recurring basis to be able to detect changes occurring in buildings and assets. This process may occur yearly, if not monthly, allowing the owner to model reality and anticipate needed repairs.

Search and rescue efforts are also greatly enhanced by the use of drones utilizing thermal or infrared sensors to find a missing person. This works especially well at night, as the body’s warmth shows up as orange, making them more easily detectable.

While drones can replace humans in some ways, the collection of data is critical and people are still needed for that task. FlyGuys has in-house project managers collecting and analyzing data.

Adam shared the history of drones, which were first utilized over thirty years ago and known as RC (remote control) coptors. “Big money went into the equipment in the first stage, getting them capable of staying in the air for more than 20 or 30 minutes. Then investments went into developing the sensors, such as RGB (red, green, and blue wavelengths replicating human vision, as is used in cell phone cameras), infrared, thermal, multispectral, and LiDAR (light detection and ranging). Today, developing new software applications for mapping, planning, stitching of the images, and 3D rendering is the focus.

In the early days of drone flying, pilots had to have a pilot’s license as there were safety concerns about these contraptions flying in air space. Now, the FAA allows drone pilots to operate once they obtain “107 Remote Pilot Certificate.”

FlyGys is located at 120 Clinton Street in downtown Lafayette. We wish Adam Zayor and his team continued success!

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