Over the past two years, drone solutions provider AgEagle acquired the camera and sensor company Micasense, the fixed-wing drone company senseFly, and the drone software firm Measure. According to AgEagle CEO Barrett Mooney, the acquisitions were designed to merge “centers of excellence to produce a better, more refined product across the industry.”
At Commercial UAV Expo 2022, Mooney sat down with Commercial UAV News for a wide-ranging discussion of his company’s recent activities, as well as the current state of the UAV industry. Mooney, who took part in the Expo’s “Drone Visionaries” panel, addressed his company’s business strategy, collaboration and cooperation in the drone industry, and what’s next for the UAV space.
Commercial UAV News: AgEagle has acquired three companies over the past two years. Tell us how those decisions fit into your overall business strategy.
Mooney: We acquired Micasense, the camera and sensor brand, we acquired senseFly, the fixed wing drone company, and we also acquired Measure, which makes ground control software for controlling flights. The key for us was to diversify the company so that we have an opportunity to collaborate as much as possible with the industry as a whole. Most of our sensors get flown on other people's drones, and to be fair, we're really happy about that. Also, our software primarily supports other people's drones, but it also supports ours. So, the purpose of these acquisitions is to build tools that will expand the scope of the industry and the market for UAVs in general. We've kind of taken up that mantle, and our big push at Commercial UAV Expo was to showcase people from our four different companies under the AgEagle banner and show that we're merging this into one company. We want to be very clear that we're not a holding company, and it's not like we're private equity. We own these sub brands because the brand names have cachet that reflects the quality of the products. Overall, AgEagle is merging these centers of excellence to produce a better, more refined product across the industry.
Commercial UAV News: How will this merging of companies help you better serve your customers?
Mooney: We want to make sure that if you buy a drone, that you're going to get a software that allows you to fly that drone and process that imagery or data that's coming off that drone and make use of it. Being diversified like this allows us to have a deeper conversation with a customer. I mean, we collaborate with other companies, and we think that's great because the customer needs options. That works for us because we get to create more opportunity in the industry, and that's what we're really after.
Commercial UAV News: You were part of the “Drone Visionaries: Getting Drones to Work Today” panel at Commercial UAV Expo. Can you talk about some of the major themes that came out of that panel?
Mooney: Finding ways to collaborate was one of the themes of the visionary panel. We talked about breaking down barriers in technology and also about the regulatory issues that we still have in the industry and how addressing these issues can help us move the forward. At the end of the day, we can collaborate to get the customers what they want because that rising tide will raise all boats, and we will then emerge as a much more robust industry.
Commercial UAV News: Collaboration is obviously important, but this is also a competitive industry. How do you reconcile the need to work together with the need to be profitable?
Mooney: I think a lot of our customers consider this to be a “consumer electronics” industry, but, for the most part, we build professional tools. Changing that customer perception is important to everyone in the industry. So, for us, collaboration is necessary because it’s really about “how do we make the pie bigger?” rather than just trying to increase our slice of it.