What’s up Kamarul? What’s going on with Aerodyne now?
We are currently having our best time. We are excited about new opportunities and our rapid triple-digit growth over the past 3 years; they were better than expected. Global traction is phenomenal. Just 4 years ago, we started out with 3 people, and now we have over 260 Aero Rangers in 21 countries! It has been a crazy and hectic journey, but it’s been equally exciting as well.
Can you share with us a little bit about yourself, and your role in the company?
My two key passions have always been Aviation and IT – but I didn’t start out that way. I studied and worked in the city of London for 10 years before coming back to Malaysia. Soon, after a brief stint as Director and Country Manager for an American software company, I could not hold in my entrepreneur spirit anymore and left the corporate world.
As CEO and founder, it is my role to constantly be on my toes – to strategise and navigate, and have a clear vision ahead of me on where Aerodyne is going. I am constantly thinking of ways to reinvent and challenge the status quo – this is how we stay ahead of the game.
You’re making your name in the drone industry globally, congratulations. But why drone business in the first place?
Our business is not just about drones. Drones, in itself, is just a dumb flying platform. What makes it intelligent is the analytics and smart sensors; and how that can be disruptive in providing real value to our enterprise clients.
Drones and AI have the potential to transform the economy (in fact, it already is changing). The market is expected to be making USD 127 billion by 2020. The emergence of Drone Technology to drive digital transformation will be disruptive to not just the Malaysian, but the Global Economy.
How did it start?
Aerodyne was initially a drone division of a Media company I founded in 2006. In 2014, we carved it out as a separate entity so that we can pursue bigger and focused opportunities in drone-based enterprise solutions.
Aerodyne was founded with the sole objective of transforming our focus from Visuals to Data. It is an engineered transformation. But soon after, we realised, even that was not enough. Customers need total solutions. We upped the ante by providing total managed solutions driven by AI and suites of various applications – specifically developed to help our clients manage their critical infrastructure assets, megaprojects, large plantations and more.
By then, even our AI and software development team grew tenfold in just 1 year. Now, more than 70% of us are engineers from various fields.
Our Phase 1 Transformation is now complete.
We are now embarking on our Phase 2. We are putting it closely wrapped. Stay tuned! Many interesting game-changing stuff are on the horizon!
What’s your competitive edge?
Aerodyne is not just a drone services company; we are an AI-driven total solutions provider. We are all about delivering quick digital transformation; a one-stop-shop solution for all our clients’ needs. I like to think of it as a “boxed solution” – you come to us with a problem, and we provide you with a “box that you open” and it solves your problems!
What makes Aerodyne different from other companies is that, while we are in the services sector, we do not stop just there. From flight operations to data management, we go beyond just providing services by incorporating advanced analytics driven by AI and cloud-based asset management solutions.
And we did not stop there.
To make it seamless, our solutions integrate with their existing ERP so that we can disrupt the whole value chain. Values are unlocked immediately. Clients are reporting cost savings of up to 20% while accelerating processes well over 400-500%.
Did we say we stopped here?
No! Up next is in the intervention and facility management scope! Not only are we detecting issues before it happens, and when we find any, we are up there fixing and putting remedial action instantly.
While the global scene is far more exciting from what’s happening in Malaysia, what are the things you wish can be done in Malaysia so that the local players can quickly fill up the gap and eventually shine internationally?
In our case, the global and Malaysian scene is very similar. Whichever continent we go to, our clients are experiencing the same issues and problem statements. We are now in every continent except North and South Pole! (Perhaps we should consider finding ways to help the penguins!)
Problems are always the same. How to reduce cost, how to maximise efficiency, how to be more competitive, etc. Companies are always looking for ways to manage their assets better, be it telco infrastructure, wind farms, power companies, etc.
Regulations in Malaysia for a drone company is one of the toughest (if not toughest) in the world. Of course, we don’t face a total ban like India or Saudi Arabia, but in terms of regulations, there are many things Malaysia can do to improve operations. For example, in Malaysia, a simple flight operation would need permission from 2-3 different agencies and can take over a week to process; whereas other developed nations with established regulations take less than 24 hours for the same thing.
I applaud MDEC’s effort to help promote the drone ecosystem, it is something we need in Malaysia.
Sales or marketing?
They are both equally important and we put equal focus to both.
Currently, our biggest challenge is trying to keep up with the demand, building capabilities and resources fast enough to catch up. Opportunities come to us on a global scale – so we are struggling to meet demands. That is our key focus for now.
Let’s talk a bit about Marketing. Can you tell us how you guys are doing it?
We participate in exhibitions, events and conferences globally throughout the year, and have a very active social media presence. We are also regularly invited to talks to present our solutions.
90% of the reasons people come to you is because of your product quality and user experience they’ve experienced from your brand. Only 10% is from your marketing stunt. What do you think of the statement?
People come to us due to the disruptive nature of our solution which is in line with our philosophy, our “Tetsugaku” in Japanese. “Hayai, Yasui, Umai!” Or “Faster, Better, Cheaper!” (and now “Safer”), is something we live by at Aerodyne.
Our clients get immediate value from our solutions. Our marketing “stunts” – they are just to create awareness, to get people talking about Aerodyne and be reminded and we are ready to disrupt their businesses! Help customers with their digital transformation aspiration are what we do. And we do it in a way that makes absolute business sense, not just for the sake of technology.
Do you mind sharing how MDEC is helping you to speed up your journey to take on the world?
We are currently ranked 7th globally by drone industry insights of Germany (https://www.droneii.com/top20-drone-service-provider-ranking), beating the only other Asian contender from Japan! It is such an honour the be ranked first in Asia.
MDEC has been very supportive in helping us with visibility, raising capital and access to markets via its GAIN programme. We are currently involved with MDEC’s DroneTech Roundtable Initiative and are also collaborating with MDEC to set up our proposed Drone Centre of Excellence here in Malaysia. Aerodyne is committed to helping bring in serious DroneTech players to build a sustainable and vibrant drone ecosystem. We are pleased to mention that this collaboration is a very progressive move by MDEC.
Anything you wish to share with your comrades in the drone industry?
It’s a big blue ocean out there. Be inventive, be disruptive. As I always say, to be successful is to innovate, not imitate. Lastly, do your part. 1+1 can really be 11 (and not 2!) if everybody works together. That way, it’s a lot easier to achieve world domination hahaha!
Best way to contact you?
I’ll be up in the Enterprise. Beam me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org