Product Launch in Emerging Markets: How One Entrepreneur Found Success after a Year and a Half of Flying Drones


Successful entrepreneur Brian Pitre became fascinated with the UAV market in 2012. With a business partner and enough capital to cover a discovery phase of six months, Pitre traveled the country flying drones, meeting other early adopters of this new technology, and looking for the right opportunity to invest in this new high-tech market. Six months turned into 18 as Pitre saw the tremendous growth potential of the UAV market.

During this time, drone building technology was advancing quickly, as was interest of both hobbyists and professionals seeking to capitalize on the technology. However, the industry was lacking a curriculum for drone pilots that could keep up with the constantly changing technology and government regulations. It was in this gap that Pitre saw his next business venture. There were plenty of people building drones and even more excited about flying them—but no one to connect the two. Training was almost impossible to come by, and Pitre wanted to change that.

Pitre's vision for a comprehensive drone piloting program was not limited to a single company offering classes but rather a program that could train the trainers themselves, paired with a curriculum constantly updated to address the latest technology and FAA regulations. His company, SkyOp, based in Canandaigua, NY, has designed a total of six courses with a wide variety of institutions teaching these classes. Though most of these institutions are in Western NY, SkyOp's reputation is spreading—and so is interest in their nationally recognized proprietary courses and custom training solutions.

The open-minded approach that Pitre took to identifying SkyOp's mission is precisely what Launch Team recommends to customers beginning the product launch process. Understanding your target customer's needs is far easier than inventing a product and then looking for a market. Pitre made an investment in understanding the UAV market's needs, and it paid off. SkyOp was recently named a finalist in the GENIUS NY competition and received an initial prize of $250K as they compete for the final $2.75 million. They have already begun generating revenue as they expand partnerships across the U.S.

If you make the effort to understand your customer base and your place in the market, you too can take to the skies. Download our Positioning Guide for tips on finding your sweet spot.

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See our previous posts on the UAV market:

XPONENTIAL Debrief: Emerging UAV Market Implications for Component Manufacturers

Emerging Market Strategy: Market Positioning for UAV

Commercial Autonomous Aircraft Market: Three Lessons on Customer Research

Gaining Traction in Emerging Markets: 10 Keys to Early Sales