How Sager Drones is Ensuring its Business Model Can Weather Any Market Conditions
15 June 2021
When you’re working with disruptive technologies and business models, it’s not uncommon to find yourself at the mercy of stringent regulations, unconvinced stakeholders, and wary public opinion. Unless you’re a large, international start-up capable of retaining teams of PR and marketing professionals, government lobbyists, and business consultants, being disruptive can feel less like a recipe for success and more like an endless uphill battle for survival.
But what are uphill battles in an industry that, by its very nature, is designed to soar? Those operating in the drone service sector will tell you: they’re still uphill battles. And particularly steep ones at that.
This is especially true in the MENA region, where regulations for drone import, licensing, and operation vary enormously from country to country, but nearly always prove to be significant barriers to entry and to sustainable, scalable growth. To be innovative and disruptive in the drone service industry takes more than just clever ideas and advanced technologies: it takes real vision, determination, and foresight.
For one Jordanian drone service provider, that vision and steady determination has resulted in one of the region’s most innovative and promising start-ups. Since 2018, Sager Drones has been leading by example, shedding light on the extraordinary potential of the drone service industry and demonstrating how strong public-private partnerships and cooperation can overcome the initial challenges of burgeoning markets and novel business models.
Blurring the Lines at the Intersection of Expertise
With a rich background in engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship, Sager Co-Founder Yousef Amoura had already accumulated years of experience in the development and operation of unmanned systems when he established the drone start-up back in 2018. His own insights would have been more than sufficient to do what most drone service operators do: find a few niche industries to target through relatively straightforward services, like aerial filming or site monitoring.
But with Sager, Amoura and his Co-Founder—serial entrepreneur and business development professional Samir Talhouni—have found a way to overcome the limitations of this kind of business model. Describing themselves as “industry agnostic,” Sager has built its operations around a commitment to process innovation, eschewing any kind of industry-centrism in favor of a focus on identifying processes and tasks that could be optimized by drone intervention. This approach alone has created a wider chasm of potential opportunities than those available to companies operating in niche fields and industries. Services like progress monitoring, mapping and surveying, and digitizing physical assets have been enormously disruptive across countless industries; rather than defining the parameters of their potential, Sager Drones has left it to the market to determine the specific utilities and applications of these services.
That’s not to say that the company isn’t at the forefront of industries offering particularly significant potential for growth: recognizing Jordan’s leadership in the development and operation of utility-scale solar farms, for example, Sager Drones has brought on photovoltaic specialists and energy experts to ensure that it can provide value at all stages of the solar farm project lifecycle. As a result, the company does exhibit particular expertise in the energy and utilities sector, and continues to invest considerably in this specific line of operations. Similarly, Sager has found considerable success in the mining sector, as its drones can provide monitoring and inspection services in areas that are otherwise difficult to access.
Taking Initiative—and a Place at the Table
Of course, without a favorable regulatory climate, drone service providers in the region are unlikely to ever make it off the ground. And given the complexity of regulating an industry with so many overlapping concerns and considerations—everything from risk and liability assessment to national security and national airspace concerns—policymakers in every country continue to struggle with the challenge of managing these emerging technologies.
Once again, Sager Drones has found a way to use its wide-reaching expertise to its advantage: with the team’s rich background in public safety and security infrastructure, the company has been able to work closely with government authorities and regulators in the Jordanian market, helping to bridge the gap between policy and practical implementation. The company even spearheaded the formation of the Drone Advisory Council of Jordan, which brings together local leaders in aviation, insurance, energy, telecommunications, and various other sectors in order to put forth policy recommendations that are inclusive of all stakeholder interests and concerns.
Effective stakeholder engagement is one of the reasons Sager Drones has risen to the forefront of the industry. (Owning and operating the largest drone fleet in Jordan certainly doesn’t hurt either.) By establishing and maintaining partnerships in all directions—with other industry players; with government authorities; with vertically aligned partners in fields like hardware, software, and analytics—the company has truly positioned itself at the center of the action.
Innovation in Flight: A Game-changing Model for Scalability
Still, one of the most existential issues facing the drone service industry has less to do with regulatory considerations, and more to do with simple scalability. In their current operational model, drone service providers continue to be bound to manual processes for fleet management, customer service, analytics, and reporting. This means that, while their technologies and tools are disruptive, their operations vis-a-vis their clients are still relatively old-fashioned.
And this is where Sager Drones has been quietly preparing for an all-out industry coup. The company is in the process of developing its own proprietary platform for customer, fleet, and analytics management. SagerSpace will automate and optimize drone operations in a way that allows for mass mobilization, while effectively interfacing with air traffic controllers and enhancing the safety and security of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flights. At the same time, it will allow clients to manage their own data and analytics with unprecedented autonomy. The SagerSpace platform will serve the company’s own clients and operations, as well as those of other drone service operators in the region, which will be especially disruptive as the company pursues entry in larger and more crowded markets, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
With the company’s eagle-eyed vision and intelligently ambitious plans for growth, Sager Drones is poised for a particularly transformative year ahead—especially as the start-up considers the prospect of new rounds of funding and various other partnerships and expansion opportunities. In an industry rife with hurdles, Sager Drones may be one of the few players that can confidently forecast clear skies ahead.