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Eagle Eye Networks begins to soar

Eagle Eye Networks begins to soar Dean Drako, Ken Francis discuss company’s growth, investments in AI, new facility, team members and more

Eagle Eye Networks begins to soar

AUSTIN, Texas—Security Systems News caught up with top leadership from global cloud video surveillance pioneer Eagle Eye Networks, just ahead of the company’s announcement of record Q1 2021 revenue growth, and greater than 85 percent year-over-year revenue growth in 2020.

As Eagle Eye Networks Founder and CEO Dean Drako pointed out, the company “has passed the tipping point in the video surveillance industry's adoption of cloud video, as businesses of all types and sizes have realized the advantages of a true cloud solution.”

Drako told SSN that even though the entire planet grinded to a halt this past year, Eagle Eye did manage to grow almost 100 percent in 2020.

“We were just shy of nearly doubling in size, and Q1 of 2021 we also had a record quarter in terms of sales,” he said. “And it appears that the U.S. is coming out of the COVID doldrums, the lockdown, as our vaccination numbers get high and people get back to a much more normal life. I noticed traffic kicking back up in Austin to almost normal levels, so I think what we are seeing in this first quarter of 2021 is some of that pent-up demand releasing, and I do think we are going to see more of that trend as the year progresses.”

Drako explained that the recent $40 million round of funding Eagle Eye secured with Accel has been a great boost to the company’s growth. “Accel is one of the top three venture capital firms in the world, which is a huge vote of confidence as to where we are at,” he said.

Cybersecurity-First Mentality

One of the key drivers of the company’s success is Drako's insistence on a cybersecurity-first mentality.

“Our customers have a lot of confidence in us because of that focus on cybersecurity,” he explained. “We have put cybersecurity as a foremost tenet of everything that we have done, and fortunately I have the cybersecurity background from Barracuda to make sure that it is done properly and that we deliver on that for customers. We have the SOC [System and Organization Controls] audits and the penetration testing and all of the things necessary to meet the audits of large, enterprise customers. We have been put through the ringer by our large enterprise customers on our security systems.”

He continued, “We have been fortunate enough to avoid any corporate drama around cybersecurity, or disclosure of our video on the Internet, or hackers getting into our system, because we run a professional organization designed to serve enterprise customers the way that they need and deserve to be taken care of.”

Customer Retention, Growth of Talent

With customer retention and satisfaction rates nearing 100 percent, Eagle Eye is doubling down on its commitment by hiring more team members, building a new manufacturing facility and improving on an already stellar service and support track record.

“One of the things our larger enterprise customers like is our global footprint, the fact that we can deliver and service all the countries that they do business,” noted Drako. “They can get one cohesive system, whereas most of these customers have a smattering of different types of solutions in each location, so users are realizing that isn’t very efficient, and they want to see what they can standardize in the cloud. The answer is, really the only solution that is globally available right now is Eagle Eye Networks, so it makes the decision kind of easy for them.”

Drako also aptly pointed out that the company’s retention numbers are all the more impressive when one considers that the majority of Eagle Eye customers go on a month-to-month type of plan.

“We have to earn their business every month, and if the quality of our service, our product, our support, isn’t up to par, they are going to leave us,” he said. “I am very proud to say that our customer retention rate was nearly 100 percent and I would compare that against anyone.”

One of the ways Eagle Eye has been able to sustain such amazing growth is the addition of new talent, close to 100 in total in the last 90 days, noted Eagle Eye President Ken Francis.

“It is just amazing to see,” Francis said, noting he was hired as employee No. 17 and now the company is at nearly 300. “As Dean mentioned earlier about the investment from Accel that we received back in October, a good 50 percent of that investment has been on the AI and technology side, but the other half of what we are spending on right now is the global expansion of our talent, and putting together the right team on the field.”

Eagle Eye also scaled up its tech-support organization so someone can always answer the phone. “Now our tech support is 24-7, 365,” said Francis. “And we answer the phone every time it rings and that is all around the world, which makes us so uniquely different than every other video company that I know of. I think that is reflected in our customer satisfaction ratings, which are always in excess of 95 percent.”

And talking support, the company is about to launch a premium support service, “where we are going to act as an extension of the end user and reseller team,” Francis explained. “We are so close in the video and the data, so we can help an end user know when cameras are down, when sites are not performing properly or optimally, or when analytics are not happening correctly. We can really become an extension of their team, and we are going to go a long way toward offering those services to the enterprise-class end user.”

Enterprise-Level Cloud

Francis noted that out of the 40 new sales hires, 18 are at the enterprise-level.

“We are going upstream to the enterprise segment, but at the same time we are focusing on growth in the emerging markets,” Francis said, noting that the company has expanded its global footprint, bolstering teams at its European and Japan offices, as well as adding an experienced sales team in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) while building on its teams in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

“We have had a dramatic increase in what I would call enterprise-level additions to the team, and we are starting to see pipelines get developed really quickly in those emerging markets that we were not in previously,” Francis noted. “I feel like within 12-18 months we are going to be well balanced all around the globe, which I think is an incredible feat since Dean founded the company in 2012.”

While the sales side builds out the enterprise pipeline, Francis pointed out that the company has also focused on building up the product to meet the demands of larger customers.

“As our platform features expand, we are making our product a better fit to the enterprise decision maker,” he explained. “And, secondly, the enterprise user is wanting the cloud and pulling us into their applications. I know 4-5 years ago we knew it was inevitable that we were going to wind up in enterprise, it was just a matter of when.”

He continued, “So now we are really seeing it as we’ve got customers with several thousand customers spread out over several hundred locations, so just think about the savings of not having to run large IT teams.”

AI in the Cloud

With the funding from Accel, Eagle Eye is making a “huge investment in the application of AI to video surveillance,” said Drako. “We have a huge effort going on in that space, and you will probably see the fruits of that effort show up in the product at the beginning of next year.”

Drako sees great potential with using AI to enhance and provide much better accuracy for the traditional analytics that are used today, such as people counting, line crossing, objects left behind, for example.

“There are about 20 or so, and a lot of these analytics are hand-crafted code and are modestly accurate, but what they are not particularly good at is discerning people and vehicles,” he explained. “Maybe one of the best examples of this is LPR [license plate recognition] technology, which most of what is used today is what we would characterize as OCR [optical character recognition] technology. But the new LPR technology is based on AI training, the application of neural nets, and it requires more compute, so it is actually significantly more accurate.”

AI also has great application in discerning people and vehicles, detecting anomalies or finding what is needed by a user in a fraction of the time using AI. “You can train it tell you to let you know when the Fed-Ex vehicles arrive each day, for example, to understand people, dogs, etc.,” said Drako. “And that is very hard to do in the traditional analytics world, which has difficulty identifying what it is seeing. With this new technology and the AI that we are developing, we can identify the type of object it is so we can get higher accuracy, so we are not getting false alerts."

He continued, "It is going to be very powerful and I think it is going to change the game.”


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