Daniel Estima Bandeira
“We write everything from components firmware, base station control software, tablet user interface, and cloud fleet and data management system. This allows us to easily customize the software for special applications, comply with market demands, government reports requirements, etc.“
– Daniel Estima Bandeira, SkyDrones
Learn more at: https://skydrones.com.br/en/
Daniel Estima Bandeira, Director/CFO at SkyDrones
What can you tell us about your current position and professional background? And how did you get into drones?
Daniel Estima Bandeira (SkyDrones): I am currently CFO at SkyDrones. I graduated as a mechanical engineer back in 2001, and soon after I was selected by EMBRAER (Brazilian Aircraft Industry) for the first specialization program in aeronautical engineering which I graduated in 2002 and started to work as a propulsion systems development engineer. In 2005 I left Embraer to do a master’s degree in business administration focused on Economics of Innovation.
Later in Taurus Group, in the continuous improvement sector, I attended another specialization in finances. Upon leaving Taurus I met with the SkyDrones team and joined as a late founder/investor. I was able at that time to mix business administration, aeronautical engineering and photography (I am also a serious amateur photographer).
What is your perspective on the commercial drone market in the next years?
Daniel Estima Bandeira (SkyDrones): There will be a huge expansion on self-driving or automated vehicles in general. For a drone or any other advanced application to be successful, it needs to be technically viable and commercially viable at the same time. But as technology evolves it affects both aspects, increasing capabilities and reducing costs.
Differently to what was announced in mid 2010’s, drones will not be a solution for everything immediately, drones will start (and have already started) in some niche applications where the technology is enough and is already commercially viable. As soon as technology advances, theses niches will grow more and more. Its difficult to establish a limit for future drone applications.
For example, in spraying drones, of course they will replace manned aircraft in the future, but today, for large areas, aircraft is still more cost effective. But nowadays it is evident that the drones area is growing larger and more productive every day.
Where do you see the Brazilian drone market compared to other countries such as USA, China, or Germany?
Daniel Estima Bandeira (SkyDrones): In this matter I see Brazil behind more developed economies in the consumer market. The drones sold in Brazil, even the smaller ones are usually used for generating revenue. Generally, they are too expensive personal use. But in the other hand, in industrial and agricultural markets, where drones are an important tool to increase productivity and reduce costs, the drone market will meet the same proportion as Brazilian economy in the global market. Perhaps it will even exceed it in areas like agriculture which represents 28% of Brazilian gross product and have an intensive use of drones.
How has your business handled the coronavirus pandemic and in which areas did you face the biggest challenges?
Daniel Estima Bandeira (SkyDrones): The pandemic affected us but not much, during the first few months we had some disruption in our production line and sales dropped due to market uncertainty. But this was a period that lasted 4 to 5 months. The biggest problem with the pandemic (a problem that we always had in Brazil but got worse) was to predict future currency exchange rates. Most components are imported and later this also affected the constantly-increasing costs in logistics and lack of electronic components.
But on the other hand we save a lot of money in travel expenses, and trade shows. We reinforced our online presence and it worked very well.
In which industry verticals does your company work?
- Safety & Security
Why did you choose this industry vertical(s) and what other markets have high potential for drones from your perspective?
Daniel Estima Bandeira (SkyDrones): As I mentioned above, agriculture in brazil represents 28% of domestic gross product, and the legislation was more mature. So, we had a huge market with low liability risks. Also, agriculture had those niches where the drones were becoming both technically and economically viable.
At the same time, as we started to sell more drones for agriculture and we have full control over software, we noticed that we could use the same platform for other applications. Today they are used for construction of power lines, riot control, radar deployment… and that’s just the beginning. We compare a bit with the truck industry, where we develop the frame and software, and integrate with payloads from several companies.
What do you think will be YOUR biggest challenge in the drone market as a ….?
… Drone Manufacturer:
Daniel Estima Bandeira (SkyDrones): 1 – Competition: We have an uneven competition because of a lot of people that do not respect the law. So many Chinese drones come to Brazil, smuggled at at lower prices and Class II drones have been widely used even if they are still illegal in Brazil. We comply with all Brazilian and international laws but in this case, it represents a competitive disadvantage.
2 – Tax rules: Brazil is quite complicated regarding taxes, and importing goods become more costly, and takes more time. Also is more difficult and expensive to import and test new components.
3 – Funding: Last but not least important: it’s difficult to have access to investment, especially if you are a hardware-intensive company. Fintechs, Saas, and Retailtechs gets funding more easily since they are not so capital intensive to scale. Cost of capital is a big thing since government interest rates are high and Brazilians usually look for more conservative investments.
… Drone Software Developer:
Daniel Estima Bandeira (SkyDrones): Brazil had the advantage of having a very skilled workforce, but since the pandemic the demand for these professionals increased affecting everyone who works with software. But in the other hand there are a lot of young people searching for training in this area.
What makes your solution unique to the market? What would you say is your Unique Selling Point?
Daniel Estima Bandeira (SkyDrones): I believe we are the only western spraying drone manufacturer that have full control over software.
We write everything from components firmware, base station control software, tablet user interface, and cloud fleet and data management system. This allows us to easily customize the software for special applications, comply with market demands, government reports requirements, etc. Also, we comply with local regulations regarding data protection (the information is not sent to any country in Asia)
In the future, the fleet management system can be upgraded to work as a marketplace, provide direct between manufactures and customer, collect (legally) business intelligence data. It will also integrate future products such as vtol mapping drones and their data. Additionally, we can customize the software and the drone for applications other than agriculture.