High flyers

Startup FairFleet has developed an online platform customers can use to book drone pilots and their equipment. This “eye in the sky” makes it possible to optimize process and settle claims more quickly, even when disaster hits. FairFleet is another success story written by the startup factory Allianz Digital Accelerator.


How nice it would be to enjoy a bird’s-eye view every now and again. Astronauts never cease to recall the sublime moment when they looked down on our planet Earth from the window of their space shuttle. Conflicts start to fade into the background and the feeling of unity becomes all-encompassing. A few hundred kilometers lower, but still with an aerial view, drones have the potential to solve problems and, most importantly, save costs in the future. More and more companies are discovering the advantages drone flights have to offer.
Part of TechCrunch Disrupt

Recognizing the demand, FairFleet has developed an online platform that hooks up customers from a range of industries, including the construction, media and insurance sectors, with qualified drone pilots. The startup gave its first public presentation during TechCrunch Disrupt in London last year. TechCrunch is one of the world’s leading online news portals for technology and Internet companies. Startups use its annual Disrupt conference as an opportunity to pitch their ideas and business models in front of an audience of investors. FairFleet made it into the final round right away and was the only company that was set up and financed by a major corporation to do so.
There is a great deal of interest in the commercial use of drones. The construction sector, for example, hopes to use these eyes in the sky to achieve huge efficiency gains. Major construction projects tend to involve a large number of different suppliers and groups of workers, all of which have to be organized and coordinated; not to mention the material. It is difficult for construction principals or managers to keep track of everything. What is more, keeping track of things costs money.

“Better planning thanks to better data.” Eldar Gizzatov, Gründer von FairFleet (im Bild rechts) and Bernd Scharrer, managing director of Allianz Digital Accelerator.
“Better planning thanks to better data.” Eldar Gizzatov, Gründer von FairFleet (im Bild rechts) and Bernd Scharrer, managing director of Allianz Digital Accelerator.

„Drones allow you to capture viewpoints we did not even think of so far. So multicopters fill in the gap between a very expensive helicopter and a camera crane. Cranes just don’t reach out high enough. Helicopters don’t get close enough. But thanks to this new technology we can do this a lot cheaper and way more dynamically.”

Pilot to go
“In Europe alone, around 360 billion euros were spent on additional construction costs in 2014 ,” explained Eldar Gizzatov, FairFleet’s founder, during TechCrunch Disrupt. “Better planning thanks to better data,” is Gizzatov’s motto. FairFleet offers its customers an all-inclusive package. His team is responsible not only for arranging pilots and permits to fly, but also for processing the data generated. The customer decides whether to use the data to create high-quality maps, images, inspection videos or marketing films.
Allianz is one such customer. Strictly speaking, the drone placement agency would never have become such a high flyer had it not been for Allianz. FairFleet is the brainchild of Allianz Digital Accelerator and collaborated with its experts to develop digital business models. Digital Accelerator is a place where innovative minds like Gizzatov can go to make their voices heard and, in the spirit of collaboration, where ideas are either brought to fruition or shelved.
The guardians of the eye in the sky: Dario Manns and his former college mate Raffael Kreuzer on a test flight.
The guardians of the eye in the sky: Dario Manns and his former college mate Raffael Kreuzer on a test flight.
Flying to the rescue when disaster hits
The specialists working in the Digital Accelerator team evaluate up to 30 projects a year. Only about three of them end up passing the stringent feasibility tests and are spun-off as subsidiaries. “We decided to implement the drone idea because this approach is also of considerable strategic value to the Allianz Group,” said managing director Bernd Scharrer. Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty is one of the biggest industrial insurers in the world.
Scharrer says regular drone missions could help analyze damage more quickly and optimize construction projects. There are a whole number of possible scenarios. In the event of a disaster, drones could fly to the rescue, unhindered by even the most impassable terrain. For instance, during a flood, drones could give the insurer a visual overview, helping them to more quickly alleviate the distress suffered by flooding victims.
FairFleet, which is first focusing on the German market, has already received its first few orders from architectural firms and construction companies. The drone service business is highly diverse and offers massive market potential. According to estimates released by the venture capital company KPCB, drone flights in 2015 generated around 1.7 billion dollars worldwide. This means that the sector, which is still in its infancy, has already reported a 167-percent revenue growth in a year-on-year comparison.

Text: Michael Grimm
An accelerator is a program that gives start-ups a fixed framework of support such as financing, staff and infrastructure. Some accelerator programs provide this service free-of-charge. Others are given shares in the company.

Allianz Digital Accelerator GmbH

Allianz Digital Accelerator GmbH is not a traditional accelerator per se, but rather a development unit within the Allianz Group. It is in charge of organizing a kind of matching process, bringing together external ideas and creators with Allianz entities on a variety of markets. Provided both sides agree, projects can be implemented. This means that there is no fixed framework of support.

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