This story appears in full in the May/June 2016 issue of Middle Market Growth.
In 2007, when Dave Kroetsch co-founded Aeryon Labs Inc., most people lumped drones into two categories. “There were RC helicopters in the hobby stores, and drones that dropped bombs on the other side of the world,” says Kroetsch, Aeryon’s CEO. He and his co-founders, Mike Peasgood and Steffen Linder, saw potential in another category: A flying tool that takes pictures to make tasks safer, more efficient and cost-effective.
That was a tough sell for potential customers who associated drones with toys or weapons, or hadn’t even heard of them. But thanks to a user-friendly, resilient design, Aeryon’s drones have flown in 35 countries for an array of jobs in the “three D’s” category—dull, dirty and dangerous. That includes assisting the Manchester Fire Department in the United Kingdom, rescue workers for Nepal’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake, and cleanup efforts for the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
What began in Kroetsch’s living room has expanded to two offices in Waterloo, Ontario, totaling 70,000 square feet. Revenue has increased 100 percent for the past four years, and Aeryon expects 2016 to at least match that pace. “When we started, we had to explain to customers how they might use a drone in their business,” Kroetsch says. “Now people are calling us saying, ‘I know how I want to use a drone. I just need one.’” Increasingly, that need is coming from the commercial market. With a $60 million investment from Summit Partners, announced in October 2015, Aeryon has additional resources to develop technologies that will maintain its competitive edge. […]