“Instead of transporting people, we transport data. We are all about getting data to the decision-makers as fast and safe as possible.“
– Chris Clark
Learn more on: www.rocketmine.com
Chris Clark – Managing Director and Co-Founder of Rocketmine
Tell us something about your current position and your professional background.
I am the co-founder and Managing Director of Rocketmine, and the Business Development Director of Public Displays Technologies (PDT). I have always had a unique interest in technology because of the science of innovation. This drove me to open my own company, Jukebox TV, at age 22. The business exposed me to the dynamics of understanding client needs and addressing those through innovative methods. Working both as Project Manager and Head of Mining Technologies at PDT, it sparked an interest to merge technology and mining together. The mining industry is one of the hardest to penetrate as it is mature and relies extensively on traditional methods to conduct operations. However, mining companies become paralyzed when they don’t obtain accurate data. Identifying this gap in the mining industry, I thought to myself what better way to do this than using drones to capture accurate data. This challenge has been the driving force behind the creation of Rocketmine as a business. This is why I aim on working hard to deliver what seems to be the impossible.
What are your perspectives on UAS in the next years?
There’s been a massive explosion in the number of drone hardware, software and service companies that have come onto the industry. The growth is still yet to continue in the global drone market. It was expected that a consolidation of the drone market was going to occur, of which is currently happening. With any new industry or trend in technology, where a consolidation has taken place, it becomes evident that there are bound to be three or four dominant players in the market. The Chinese are currently dominating the DJI multi-rotor market, leaving the fixed-wing market opportunity vacant. We will continue seeing everyone focusing on their niches by their application, from inspection to surveying and mining, opening an opportunity for anybody to be agricultural or forestry drone experts. A variety of expanded drone services being offered within the industry will begin to emerge as the markets continue to move towards maturity. This is the best time to be part of the shift in the drone industry as legislations are getting tighter and the power and control is moving to towards the governing authority for unmanned aerial systems.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge in the areas you operate in?
There are a lot of challenges that come with any new industry and new technology penetrating an existing and mature market. Firstly, a large amount of capital is used to start a regulated and licensed operation. Thus, one will need to demonstrate that the business can remain profitable within the changing technological landscape and spend money where it counts. These two aspects will always pose a challenge within the drone industry. With Rocketmine coming out of a developing country, access to capital and investment is not as easy, which adds largely to this challenge.
Secondly, marrying old-school aviation with old-school mining and introducing new school technology calls for a complicated situation. It takes time to educate, market and demonstrating tangible services and accurate data. Fantasy marketing does not win projects. Taking the time to illustrate the benefits of using drones to acquire data while addressing the client’s primary need is what gives you the competitive advantage.
Thirdly, the regulations behind aviation and mining are non-negotiable qualifying criteria that allows you into the playing field. The challenge is that the regulations change frequently, which means your operations need to adapt and accommodate the change timeously to stay relevant.
The challenges we are and will be faced with, have taught us to focus on the customer and the solutions that count. At the end of the day it’s not always about the cost of the drone data service that wins the projects, but the ability to embrace change as the only constant in this industry.