Parrot, a French pioneer in high-tech drones

My French Link > Investment

In December 2015, the French company Parrot, the world’s second-biggest name in drones after Chinese firm DJI, raised 300 million euros through an increase in share capital to finance a comprehensive development program. Its objectives are to invest heavily in this sector while offering ever more sophisticated products and to gain market share among consumers and corporations.

Henri Seydoux, selftaught entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of Parrot, one of the leading companies in drones.
Henri Seydoux, the founder and CEO of Parrot.

Parrot : the champion of connected objects

Self-taught Henri Seydoux hails from a large family with entrepreneurship in its veins (Schlumberger); in 1994 his passion for computer coding led him to found Parrot. At the time he sought to market a speech- recognition datebook for the blind. The concept was only a modest success, but the technology was repurposed to develop a hands-free Bluetooth system that could be installed in vehicles. Parrot then became a major player in that market through the end of the 2000s. At the same time, the company was also developing high-end wireless speakers and headphones designed by Philippe Starck. Buoyed by its success, Parrot went public in 2006.

That was when the lively Henri Seydoux, a visionary and a geek at heart who is always in search of the next big thing, decided to venture into the world of drones, against the advice of his board of directors. Henri Seydoux eshed out his concept with Pascal Zunino, a young engineer at the Institut Polytechnique in Grenoble and winner of the innovation contest held by ONERA (France’s National Bureau for Aerospace Research and Engineering). A lean team was tasked with inventing a device whose design, intuitive control system, in-flight stability and video quality would be unprecedented.

Parrot Brand Studio

Parrot takes off with its drones

Launched in 2010 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the AR Drone – the rst that can be controlled via smartphone – made a lot of waves and was a runaway hit. Within barely a year, the little ying machine generated 23.2 million euros in sales.

Drones quickly became a social phe- nomenon. In 2015, Parrot sold nearly one million units around the world with annual sales soaring to 326 million euros. Today the drone business accounts for about 70% of its revenue and has changed the face of the group. Parrot’s drones appeal mainly to the general public, but to businesses as well. Parrot has acquired the start-ups SenseFly, Pix4D, Airinov, Micasense and EOS Innovation, whose expertise and precision sensors can retrieve data for use in farming, mapping and monitoring.

bebop_drone_2

Innovation in the genes

In 2016, Parrot is embarking on a new chapter in its growth, an expensive but salutary change in strategy. Online sales, more points of sale and the introduction of new models are also calculated to capitalize on the sales dynamic. This year has already seen the debuts of Bebop 2, the brand’s best-seller; Mambo and Swing, two ultra agile and playful mini-drones; and Disco, which combines wings with virtual reality glasses for an immersive flight.

Parrot currently employs a staff of 1,000, of which 650 are research and development engineers. “Technology is where I get my inspiration,” says Henri Seydoux. To stand out from its competitors, Parrot is betting on premium drones with easier handling, longer ranges and even better performance. The company also wants to offer a line of cutting edge professional drones. To this end, Parrot is pouring a lot of effort into the simultaneous development of data management software.

Parrot Brand Studio

There are no limits to what technology and drones can accomplish and Parrot intends to explore every bit of that potential.the simultaneous development of data management software.

www.parrot.com