Author Topic: Thoughts on a Drone Business: First Year  (Read 38 times)

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Offline boykintom

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Thoughts on a Drone Business: First Year
« on: January 11, 2018, 06:55:30 AM »
Hey Guys,

For those of you that might be considering starting a drone business of some type, here are some thoughts and observations from my first year in running an aerial imagery business.
Jobs were very had to come by at first, even though I tried to do everything right, including creating a website and a Facebook page, business cards, rack cards, advertising on the town's billboard, etc.  It took far longer than I thought for us to find that first paying job.
Our first jobs were primarily covering large events like the town-wide yard sale and a big cattle sale for a local farmer/rancher.  We have also done considerable pro-bono work for the community, which I believe has helped us become known.
These days, most of our work is done as an independent contractor for companies like DroneBase, where they find the jobs and we get a share of what is paid to them.  You won't get rich this way, but it does pay the bills.  In the past few months, I've been averaging 2 or 3 jobs per week, and I can usually combine trips with 2 or more jobs, or a needed trip to the big city for other reasons.  These jobs call for real precision flying, as they are often in very tight spaces between houses and around and under trees.
We have now made enough money to cover the cost of a Phantom 4, a Phantom 4 Pro, and an Ipad Pro, and even have some money left over.  I have also now begun to put gas and other expenses on the company debit card, to more truly account for what we actually spend or make. 
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We're exploring new directions with other companies, either as a contract pilot or as a partner. More on that later as it develops.
If any of you have questions, please post them and I'll answer as best I can.
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"Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground"

Offline Rumblecloud

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Re: Thoughts on a Drone Business: First Year
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 09:26:02 AM »
I had no idea you were pursuing it at this level. it seems like it is taking the same or similar path as other small businesses as far as investment of time. Plus, you dealing with a new or relatively new form of -- i don't even know what to call it -- "business tool"  maybe. In that no on one really knows how to take advantage of it.

Private homeowners with McMansions might want a picturesque aerial view of there estate or real estate businesses could prolly use it but that's low hanging fruit. Property surveillance, event coverage...you're doing all the things I can think of and then some.

I give you a lot of credit Tom and wish you lots of success.

Offline Flyingdeutschman

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Re: Thoughts on a Drone Business: First Year
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 10:44:33 AM »
Some might have to do with the industry in your area. Ours is logging here so hence the Hextor project. Find out what they would use helicopters for in your area and see if any of those can be done with a drone. Helicopters are very expensive.
Also check with your local first responders and ask about contracting yourself out. Search and rescue contract ATV's and horses along with private helicopters in some cases. There are much more possibilities for drones other than taking pictures and making videos.

Offline boykintom

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Re: Thoughts on a Drone Business: First Year
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 11:06:53 AM »
Thanks very much for your advice Randy and Mark!  We have done some real estate work, but I feel we've just scratched the surface there.  We've also volunteered for local search and rescue and we're part of a larger drone alliance in SC that has volunteered to help out in natural disasters like hurricanes or floods.  I'm trying to market our services to forestry industry and forest landowners for mapping, locating spots of insect damage and beaver damage and so on, but so far no paid jobs have come from that, although we've done a couple for friends.  I just accepted a DroneBase job on Saturday, and declined another one since it was too far to be profitable.  Anyway, I think we are going through developmental stages that are fairly typical of other small, service-oriented companies.  Right now, I'm glad to be covering expenses.
"Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground"

Offline Sobodad

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Re: Thoughts on a Drone Business: First Year
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 06:23:06 PM »
declined another one since it was too far to be profitable.

I'm curious ..

Did you account for your own expenses with the job and are you permitted to add them onto the amount offered for the job ?

I have done a few PC repairs, where I have traveled over 300km to the location (600km round trip)

But I always included the costs (50c - $1 per km) in my quotes for away from home jobs and I actually make more from the travel than I do from the actual job.

At the same time I have done jobs where I make $20 profit and although it not worth it, I always looked at it as 'Getting My Name Out'.
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Offline boykintom

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Re: Thoughts on a Drone Business: First Year
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 06:20:57 AM »
declined another one since it was too far to be profitable.

I'm curious ..

Did you account for your own expenses with the job and are you permitted to add them onto the amount offered for the job ?

I have done a few PC repairs, where I have traveled over 300km to the location (600km round trip)

But I always included the costs (50c - $1 per km) in my quotes for away from home jobs and I actually make more from the travel than I do from the actual job.

At the same time I have done jobs where I make $20 profit and although it not worth it, I always looked at it as 'Getting My Name Out'.
Unfortunately, the contract work I do has no allowance for my expenses.  I can either accept it or decline it depending on whether or not it makes sense to me.  Most of these jobs are within 50 miles, and if they are farther than that, I either decline them or wait for the price to go up, which it often does if there are no other takers.  We've done jobs for $20 profit with the same idea, and we've also done some for free for small towns and friends, with the same idea of becoming known.
"Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground"

 

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