Nearly a third of our planet is covered by forest, and considering all of the resources in those wooded areas, there’s no doubt you’re looking at a lucrative market, and someone should be keeping an eye – and a few drones or satellites – on it.
Intelescope Solutions is a forest analytics company that utilizes drone and satellite imagery to transform the massive forestry industry. Intelescope provides their clients, which include. Pension Funds, Timber REITs, TIMOs, Hedge Funds, and Forestry Land Owners/Managers/Consultants, with automated services at speeds of 50-100x faster than those of current processing techniques This enables more efficient management and a richer knowledge of timber assets.
With their HQ in the US (New York, in fact), as well as an office in Brazil, and an R&D center in Israel, Intelescope work on a global platform, and has already raised $8.3 million, to date.
Ben Rudin talks about the tremendous opportunities ahead for the company, and the planet.
Tell us about the service.
We have built an image analysis platform that uses drone and satellite imagery, to transform the massive forestry industry. Intelescope’s services, such as individual tree detection and forest health assessments, provide value throughout the entire life cycle of a forest. In particular, the three areas in which our services have proven to pay real dividends are in improving the daily management of timber, the assessment of forest health and sustainability, and lastly, our due-diligence capabilities for timber transactions, which are often eight to nine figure decisions. Our ability to provide critical data throughout the entire cycle of a forest provides us with a vast client landscape.
How is it different?
Our Israel R&D center is comprised of over 25 image analysis experts and engineers who have years of experience in the analysis field. As Israel is a world leader in image analysis, the talent pool we are exposed to allows us to employee some of the best and brightest in the analytics industry. With this team, we have invested heavily in our disruptive technology platform, which utilizes our patented analytics image algorithms to create services for the data-hungry forestry industry. Being that our system has been built in house, from the ground up, we are not sensitive to the type of satellite or drone imagery that we use as input for analysis. This is highly advantageous, as opposed to, say, companies that use off-the-shelf technology.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
The company is centered on capitalizing on the unique and overlooked opportunity that lies in the massive forestry industry. Forests today cover 31% of the earth’s land mass and produce wood products valued at over $500B per year. However, much of the forestry industry has yet to reap the benefits of broader advances in technology. It is often described as one of the last “major industries” that has yet to be impacted by technology.
What is the business model?
For our long term vision, through the accumulation of data we receive from both our many projects as well as readily available satellite imagery, we intend to use big data and predictive analytics to support the likes of when and where the next forest fire will take place and the optimal location to plant trees, due to the previous cycle’s success rate. In addition, other applications will include the ability to predict the path in which a forest disease will most likely spread.
As a results of such big data-enabled applications, we believe our market will extend even further into governmental entities who look to monitor and improve the sustainability of their State and National forests. With roughly a third of the earth’s surface covered with forests, we will have a tremendous amount of area to analyze.
What inspired the idea and the interest in the forestry market?
The concept for the company came from our founders, Steven Schlussel and Bert Cohen. Steven was the Founder/President of IEM Waste, which merged into Oakleaf,which was later acquired by New Mountain Capital. Bert Cohen, among others, was a founder of Telerate Systems, Inc.,which was acquired by Dow Jones Corp.
Steven and Bert wanted to tap into the incredible technology of Israel, and in particular, into the image analysis field, in which Israel is a world leader. Once establishing a core of image analysis experts, they turned their focus to the forest industry.
What excited us about the Forestry industry is it is one of the last major markets yet to be disrupted by technology. The decisions the industry makes are extremely complex, yet the data they have, is limited. That is where Intelescope comes in, extracting data out of the images.
What is the oddest photo request that you have processed?
We have been asked to count cows in a ranch.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We expect to be conducting large-scale commercial work with a heavy majority of the leading forestry firms worldwide. In parallel, we will be closer to our long-term goal of developing big data for forestry.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?
We do not have one investor in particular in mind.Rather, as we have yet to approach the Venture Capital and Private Equity firms. We are interested to sit down with them and to find a strategic partners who can truly helpful us reach our goal of through the use of big data, monitoring the world’s forest.
Why did you launch in New York?
We launched here for several reasons. First and foremost, the technology ecosystem in NYC is blossoming and it is beyond exciting to be immersed in. As a result of the tech boom taking place, the amount of resources, including talent, makes it an extremely desirable place to be located.
From a forestry perspective, it is between two of the leading forestry regions in the US, which are the Northern forests of (northern New York, Vermont andMaine) and the entire Southeast.
What’s is your favorite part about being here in NYC?
The ability to pick up the phone and arrange a meeting just a few block away with many of leading technology leaders in the industry today.