FlyGuys CEO Adam Zayor managed big construction projects early on in his work career. One day he watched video footage captured by a drone flying over one of his sites. He realized then the potential of inexpensive, small, unmanned eyes in the sky that could record project progress, measure distance and perform other tasks that had been out of reach.
He wanted to invest in the drone market, but there was no way to do so except to create his own start-up. So, in 2013 he gathered the money he had and took a leap of faith by starting FlyGuys.
But it was still a rough couple of years, leading up to having to lay off most of his staff in 2018. “For a period of three years I was never less than three to six months from running out of cash, going bankrupt,” he said.
Zayor knew he couldn’t fly solo yet so he sought help. In the spring of 2018, he became a member of the Opportunity Machine where he gained access to mentors and a physical workplace with all the wiring needed to connect to the world and reduce overhead costs.
Things started improving as he learned the ropes of running a start-up, where the view is often clouded and knowing what to do is never obvious. He brought in a consultant, hedge fund manager Jonathan Booth, then started adding more to his staff.
Three years later FlyGuys really is flying. Revenue for FlyGuys since 2018 has grown 150% a year in a drone services market that internationally is growing by leaps and bounds. The company has completed over 2,000 jobs in 47 states and seven countries. Zayor has committed to growing the company by pouring profits back into the company.
FlyGuys now has their own office space at 120 Clinton St in downtown Lafayette, a full-time staff of 11, and a network of around 4,000 contract drone pilots across the country.
President of Operations Nicholas Boone said running and working for a start-up is not the same as joining a mature, established company. “You have to figure it out for yourself… Being able to problem solve on the fly is probably one of the key takeaways at a start-up.”
Boone said conserving cash is always on his mind. Others in the company are focused on giving the best product possible. Both kinds of employees work at FlyGuys. “Having a happy marriage of both in our business is a healthy balance,” Boone said.
Steven Booth, financial analyst at FlyGuys is pursuing venture capital to fund growth. Things are looking good, Booth said. FlyGuys is going to be a big company; it now is setting sales records each month.
Ross Murphree, a FlyGuys project manager and marketing professional, is from a Lafayette family that owns Old Tyme Grocery, BJ’s and Sandra’s. He wanted a change, so he joined FlyGuys in early 2021. He is most excited about FlyGuy’s potential to grow employment in the Acadiana region.
“Lafayette is full of good people – it’s the culture here,” said Murphree. “So the opportunity [for college students] to stay involved in such an awesome community, and also serve a national – and potentially international – client base is really cool.”