Q: Why is now the time for companies to train their staff to fly drones?
A: As the Gatwick closure during Christmas of last year showed, the cost to business of poorly flown drones can be exorbitant, costing EasyJet over £15 million due to cancelled flights and refunds. Training properly to fly drones is not only legally necessary but also paramount to minimizing disruption to businesses. Anyone who uses a drone for commercial reasons must have the appropriate training and hold a PfCO. Even if you have permission from the land or property owner, without a PfCO you can be prosecuted. With drone use increasing rapidly, the CAA and police are cracking down on unpermitted commercial use by actively pursuing prosecutions.
Q: Who do you typically attract to your Academy?
A: We’ve noticed a paradigm shift in terms of who we are training: companies are now investing in up-skilling staff to ensure they have in-house drone capability for deploying wherever and whenever needed. Beforehand, we were training owner operators who wanted to fly drones commercially.
Q: What is the Commercial UAV Academy?
A: The Commercial UAV Academy (CUAVA) is a full National Qualified Entity (NQE) approved by the Civil Aviation Authority to run training courses. It’s a UAV ground and flight school that helps drone operators achieve the qualifications they need to operate professionally. I founded CUAVA following 20 years UAV experience, to meet demand for well-trained, legally compliant commercial pilots.
Q: With more and more drones taking to the skies, how do we avoid casualties?
A: In 2016, there was a 365% increase in unlawful drone use. Increased drone use quite rightly means the development and implementation of stricter laws and safety guidelines around the use of drones, with a shift from flying ‘etiquette’ to more defined dos and don’ts. In November, the International Standards Office (ISO) published a proposed set of global standards for drone operations around the world, and are expected to be adopted worldwide in 2019.
Q: Do you think the new ISO standards on Drone safety are fit for purpose?
A: I welcome the ISO standards as a means of making drones more useful and accepted by business, but far more education is still needed. Although the CAA has its own well-thought-out regulations and the ‘Drone Safe’ initiative, undercover research conducted by our Academy confirms that worryingly misleading advice is still being given to purchasers of drones on the high street, with little or no mention of legal requirements or even common safety advice about operating a drone.
Q: How would you describe Drone use and the associated risks?
A: I would describe Drones as being a disruptive technology that is readily available, which encourages people to use it immediately, without thinking of the consequences. The same happened when the automobile arrived in the hands of private owners; legislation had to catch up with how the new technology was being used.
Q: Do you think the Gatwick Airport closure last year will affect legislation moving forward?
A: Speculation is widespread about what extra restrictions could now be put in place to try and prevent similar disturbances. There has been suggestion that the separation distance be increased to 5km from major airports, but this is purely speculation. Other restrictions may be suggested, but one thing is for certain: the qualified, certified drone operator is not the cause of the problem.
Mandatory registration of drones over 250g is already in the ANO, effectively air law and is scheduled to start in November 2019
What is required is more information at the point of sale of equipment to consumers explaining the rules, risks and requirements of operating a drone safely, even as a hobbyist.
Q: Risks aside, why are movie makers increasingly choosing Drones over other technologies?
A: Drones complement the existing technologies that are available, cranes and helicopters both have operational limits, drones fit in between these other options in terms of capability, and offer a flexible solution to the challenges.
Q: Why train at the Commercial UAV Academy?
A: The academy is one of the most established drone training schools in the UK, offering courses throughout the year in a variety of locations, including Cambridge and London. Our courses are led by true UAV experts with 10 to 20 years’ experience in the sector. We are also able to provide bespoke one-on-one training to those who want it, which is testament to our flexibility as an academy.
ABOUT COMMERCIAL UAV ACADEMY
Commercial UAV Academy (CUAVA) is a UAV ground and flight school that helps drone operators achieve the qualifications they need to operate professionally. CUAVA was set up by experienced drone operators to meet demand for well-trained, legally compliant commercial pilots. CUAVA is a full National Qualified Entity (NQE) and is approved to run courses by the Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA requires anyone wishing to operate a UAV for commercial gain to hold a NQE competency certificate before applying for Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO). CUAVA instructors are also seasoned professional pilots, with a wealth of commercial experience, both on the ground and in the air, to pass on to their students.
DIFFERENTIATION – THE KEY TO THRIVING IN A SATURATED MARKET
Graham Glass, CEO of Cypher Learning
What has enabled Cypher to continue to grow in an increasingly saturated market?
Recognising opportunities for growth around the world is actually one of the things that has helped us grow. We realized that there were so many opportunities outside of the U.S or Western Europe and actually, a lot of our revenue comes from outside of these regions. For example, with our education based LMS, NEO, we have schools and institutions in the Philippines, Latin America, Norway, Australia, and more. The way we have created the product allows the flexibility for it to be tailored to each educational institution’s exact needs and because of this process, we can provide different languages, different elements of learning and really help the teachers in each country make the most out of the system.
You have recently expanded into four more locations: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Russia. What was the reasoning behind deciding on these locations?
The growing popularity of our learning platforms has made it possible for the company to expand quickly and cover more of the market around the world. The selection of the new sales offices came as a natural move, as we started to get more and more customers in those locations, and we wanted to seize the opportunity to expand even more. We also wanted to provide local support to our customers, which is an important aspect in our strategy. Since we already had an office in The Philippines, opening new locations in Indonesia and Malaysia was essential. In the case of Australia, since we launched the APAC version of our platforms, with servers hosted in Sydney, it was also vital to have a sales office as well.
What is different about your products compared to your competitors?
CYPHER LEARNING is currently the only company on the market that provides a learning platform for each e-learning segment: academic, corporate, and entrepreneurs. Our products are built on the same core platform. They share some functionalities and the overall design of the platform, but they’re targeted towards different markets. NEO is an LMS for schools and universities, MATRIX is an LMS for businesses, and INDIE is an LMS for entrepreneurs. For each of our products, we have created special functionalities that address the needs of each market.
Our platforms are very intuitive, easy to use, and visually appealing, which makes the whole experience more engaging and enjoyable for all users. The navigation is simple, and you can customize the platforms to match your brand and fit your needs.
Our platforms are built to ensure a smooth implementation and they’re easily adopted by students, teachers, trainers, and entrepreneurs. We offer support for 40+ languages, mobile apps for all devices, and accessibility features so all users can enjoy the platform.
CYPHER LEARNING products provide complete solutions with powerful features for managing all teaching and learning activities for schools, organizations, and entrepreneurs.
We’re also focused on bringing innovation through our platforms, by creating cutting-edge features that other systems do not support such as automation, adaptive learning, and competency-based learning.
How do you see the e-learning market changing and developing in the future?
I’m very excited about the future of the e-learning market. Machine learning and artificial intelligence hold great potential in terms of making learning truly personalized. We’re already on that path, taking steps forward with automation, multi-layered neural networks, feedback algorithms, amongst many other developments. And things will advance on a massive scale, rather quickly. With AI in online education, we’re not talking about 20 years until it will become the norm. Some of these technologies are going to be available and mainstream in the next few years. Keeping up with these changes and making sure the incredible amounts of learner data will be used correctly will be challenging, but I have high hopes of what the future has in store for us.
What advice would you offer other individuals and businesses in the e-learning industry?
We’re all in this together so we need to stay true to ourselves. In order to provide the best tools, the best solutions and the most memorable experiences that support people of all ages to learn new things, we need to keep on learning ourselves. That’s the only way to continued growth, both personally and professionally.
IPO: WHY GO PUBLIC?
By Sandy Campart
The main objective of an IPO – Initial Public Offering – is to raise capital in order to allow a company to grow. However, during a global economic slowdown, investors are increasingly cautious. In times like these, how should you prepare to go to the market?
Reasons for an IPO
A company’s motivation for going public is often linked to the idea of “creating one’s own currency” in order to fund internal and external growth, to diversify future sources of finance and strengthen the financial structure of the company. Listing a company on the stock exchange results in tradability and liquidity, allowing previous shareholders to exit, realising a gain on their capital. It also creates a valuation for the company which will be useful for future succession plans. At a strategic level, an IPO can enable the company to clarify its strategy, refocus its activities, increase its visibility and credibility, and ultimately differentiate itself from competitors.
Nonetheless an IPO will significantly change the way a company operates. Corporate governance has to be overhauled, support functions professionalised and financial communication must be made transparent. All studies show that, when information is withheld, the negative impact on the share price is greater than if the bad news had been announced.
2019: a mixed bag
In 2019, newly listed companies have seen their share price grow by almost 13% on average. However, the figures vary greatly. Software and IT security companies have performed the best with an average of nearly 40%.
Nevertheless, the stock market performances of SmileDirect (dental aligners), Peloton (exercise bikes and fitness) and even Uber attest to the increased scepticism of investors for unrealistic or exaggerated levels of profitability. Uber’s price has been particularly disappointing since the latest results presented were well below the expectations of the investors. In the second quarter of 2019, the turnover was more than 5% lower than expected and the profit – or rather the deficit – per share was 53% greater than expected. Uber’s growth has been slower than that of rival app Lyft, and the restructuring costs associated with many departures, lay-offs and resignations do not seem to be controlled. Additionally, Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowski, told his employees that the teams were too large to be compatible with the pace of growth needed, while Uber’s CTO, Thuan Pham, believes it could take decades for Uber to achieve its “vision”, suggesting there could be a later than expected ability to turn a profit.
Towards a better year in 2020?
For a company wishing wanting to maximise its initial flotation price, there are two strategies to pursue: the first is to float when the company is performing exceptionally, the second is to wait until the stock market is in a more favourable position.
In the context of a global economic slowdown, investors have for several months been moving towards “safe haven” shares in order to protect their assets. This, combined with the chaotic path of some recently introduced companies and the abundance of private financing, makes it difficult to see an acceleration of operations in 2020.
Even though the flotation of Airbnb remains topical, Postmates (delivery service) and Endeavor (talent agency) have paused their entry to the stock market. It is possible they are prioritizing interest from venture capitalists and risk capitalists. Palantir (Big Data) and Stripe (internet payments) could also look for private funds instead.
The WeWork failure
WeWork is the most prominent example of our current inability to distinguish a unicorn from a chimera. Investors have to learn – or re-learn – how to resist those appealing equity fairy stories and to see beyond the innovative nature and rapid growth of a concept. Cash flow, debt level and governance remain key decision-making factors. In the WeWork prospectus, the word “technology” appears more than 120 times. The Coué method of repetition is here being used to suggest that traditional valuation models should not apply to this business. There is little doubt, however that WeWork is more of a property developer with an innovative business model than it is a technology company.
About Sandy Campart
Sandy Campart is a lecturer and researcher. He is a member of the Centre of Research for Economics and Management (CREM), part of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). M. Campart is director of IUP Banque Finance Assurance de Caen – a finance school in Normandy – and author of “If we dared to invest in the stock market”.
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