Joe Stough, FlyGuys
Nationwide aerial data capture across multiple business sectors developed by the man who “was Moneyball before Moneyball”?
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This week Mike sits down with FlyGuys founder and CEO, Joe Stough, to learn more about Joe’s vision to connect people who want to fly and can fly with the opportunities to do that work across many business verticals.
A native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Joe Stough is the quintessential outdoorsman. Duck hunting, “chasing red snapper”, shrimping, and crabbing are just a few of the pastimes you’ll find him and his family enjoying between the months of March and August. For the remainder of the year, you’ll find Stough on his 1,000-acre rice farm.
Baseball took Stough to California, an address change he credits as instrumental to his career.
“I found myself really interested in writing software, and California was a great place to be a software developer back in the late eighties, early nineties,” he says. “While in grad school, I wrote a software program, which ran the housing department, and realized that writing software was what I wanted to do.”
A love of baseball intersected with a love of math and statistics to create what Stough joking calls the Moneyball before the Moneyball.
“(College baseball and a love for statistics) intersected, and the very first program I designed was a baseball statistics application,” he says. “It was too early—the Moneyball that didn’t come to fruition before the real one did. I had to pivot because coaches, at that time, weren’t ready for that sophisticated level of data capture.”
AcreForward is much like baseball Taranis Chief Operating Officer and host, Mike DiPaola says, “In agriculture, we’ve always had the stats. But it’s only been the last three years that the right tech has come together to enable us to start really looking at them.”
DiPaola and Stough talk about risk and software’s role in defining and mitigating risk to loss, and Stough’s commitment to operational excellence.
In 2020, after creating software that served the biggest oil and energy players in the sector to growing a food delivery app startup from conception to a 200-million-dollar public company, Stough found himself sitting on numerous boards, one of which was FlyGuys.
“I saw the same signals. I was seeing the front end of the demand curve in an organization that was young and needed to rapidly mature to have more scalable processes and technology, and I saw an opportunity to bring my skills,” Stough says. “I made the decision to go from a full-time board member, scattered across a half dozen companies, to a full-time CEO.”
FlyGuys, an aerial data capture company, connects with companies and individuals who need for aerial data. Working across many industry sectors, FlyGuys supplies aerial data to construction, real estate, agriculture, and energy—wherever demand for the data exists, with Stough sharing that the company serves more than 30 vertical markets.
“We’re specifically looking for those companies that have high-frequency demand, and agriculture represents high-frequency demand because of the nature of the work that you’re doing where you want to fly the same acreage multiple times as the growing season progresses,” he says. “On the supply side, we have about 300,000 individuals with an FAA license to fly a drone commercially. And in the middle, is the analytics company, like Taranis – if all a farmer had was the data, they would get little value from it. Taranis provides the AI and the know-how to identify problems and opportunities. Those three pieces, make up the design that we have for the Fly Guy’s marketplace.”
Stough says that the seasonality of agriculture makes it a great fit for FlyGuys. Ag drone pilots are busy for six months of the year flying throughout the growing season and then have a lull after the growing season. FlyGuys can provide opportunities for those pilots to fly jobs like cell towers, parking lots, and construction inspection and data capture.
“The demand is getting service better, the suppliers are getting more jobs, both sides are happy, and they continue to interact with our marketplace,” Stough says, adding that FlyGuys is projected to grow 10x in the next two years.
To learn more about FlyGuys, the number of pilots they provide opportunities to, and the company’s partnership with Taranis, visit the AcreForward podcast at acreforwardpodcast.com.