9 Best Drone Business Opportunities
Drones are not just a fancy gadget used by recreational enthusiasts and YouTubers. It offers some serious business opportunities on a professional level.
The commercial drone industry has grown significantly from around $40 million in 2012 to over a billion US dollars by 2017. Large corporates and start-up companies are making use of drones for their business activities.
Drone prices are constantly falling because new technology and competition among drone manufacturers work in tandem to create a dynamic ecosystem.
One can find affordable drones which are capable of HD and 4K video recording, GPS and autopilot features, and in-flight features like active tracking.
If one is serious about using drones for a business venture, then one can spend a significant amount and purchase drones which offer some of the most cutting edge technologies which can be useful in industrial applications.
If you like flying drones, then it is even better. You can make a living out of the work that you actually enjoy doing. You can look towards starting a drone business on the side along with your day job or you can quit your job and turn into an entrepreneur if you really have the conviction.
Anyone interested in starting his/her very own drone business should first learn all about drones, the laws of flying drones in his/her home country, and the various ways in which drones can be used for commercial projects.
One can operate a part-time drone business or go all the way with a full-time gig. The drone services can be offered on a contract basis or on a time-based manner. There are plenty of ways and plenty of industries in which a drone business can prosper.
Starting and successfully running a drone business requires a lot of hard work and commitment. Let us explore some of the most popular drone business opportunities.
Before the days of drones, aerial photography used to be a highly expensive proposition. One would have to rent expensive equipment and, at times, even hire a helicopter!
Drones now come equipped with high-resolution cameras and are a low-cost way of getting the lens up in the air. The cameras come with very good stabilization features and special in-flight modes.
Drones can be used to track moving subjects and circle around them. With a high-end drone, one can use in-flight features to produce excellent cinematic effects. Professional quality videos which used to require a crew of photographers and staff members can now be shot by one person using a decent drone.
One can fly drones at lower altitudes than airplanes and helicopters and shoot footage for landscapes, wildlife, wedding events, sporting events, and film/TV subjects.
Real Estate Photography
Keeping with the aerial photography theme, real estate photography is a huge sub-area worth exploring. Aerial shots of site locations, prospective views that customers will see from a particular floor height, and creating a showcase of the general project layout area are all projects that can be done by using a good commercial drone.
Drones can also be used to create an intro video of a project. The surrounding areas, the major roads and highways, and any public parks/open spaces can be shot and demonstrated effectively using a drone camera.
Many real estate developers are using drone photography services for their projects. If the neighborhood that you live in has construction work coming up, then it may help to visit the site and meet the developer. Pitch for your drone services and you might just find your first work closer to home.
Home and office security is an excellent area for drone usage. The drone can be the eye-in-the-sky and keep a watch on the flow of people at a particular location.
Any intrusion or attempted robbery can be captured on camera and used as evidence in the court of law. One would obviously have to study the laws regarding the admissibility of such evidence and any other legal provisions about filming in such situations.
However, once the legal stuff is sorted, you can set up the network in such a way that the drone footage can be streamed over a smartphone. This feature can be offered as a value-added service.
Drones can also be used to detect dangers to property like fire and water leaks. The video stream from the drone can be viewed on a smartphone or at a monitoring facility. Even city and municipal authorities can use drones to monitor certain specific locations as part of their surveillance and disaster prevention efforts.
Drones can be extremely useful in search and rescue operations. They can not only reach areas which are completely unsafe for humans to go to, but they are also very economical. Imagine having to fly an aircraft or a helicopter to a disaster site.
Drones can fly during the daytime as well as in the darkness of the night sky. Drones can also be fitted with infrared and night-vision sensors which allow search and rescue teams to look for humans trapped under debris. The heat signature from the human body can be detected using specially equipped drones.
Drones can also be used to deliver emergency medication and supplies in areas which are cut-off from civilization. For example, in mountainous terrain, a landslide can block a road or highway to a remote village. Similarly, an area affected by floods can be tackled using drones.
One can rent out specially equipped drones as part of a search and rescue business. One can also offer search and rescue services by operating drones in specific areas. Thirdly, one can rent out special sensors which drone owners can use for search and rescue operations.
Agriculture is a major area for disruption using drone technology. Drones allow farmers to collect unprecedented amount of information using sensors and videography. Best of all, the cost of acquiring this data is not very high.
Data about soil hydration levels, variations in soil composition, and pest infestations can all be captured using a high-resolution camera and the right kind of sensors.
Drones can be flown hourly, daily, weekly, or at any regular time intervals to collect valuable crop and soil data. The data can then be used to plan out farming activities like irrigation, fumigation, fertilization, etc. Drones allow farmers to maximize their crop yield and minimize the use of resources like water and pesticides.
As a drone business owner, you can specialize in agricultural surveying and offer your services to hundreds or thousands of farmers across your country.
Drones can capture the attention of people in a specific location. Imagine flying a drone with a company’s logo at a sporting event or a state fair.
Such activities can be a very effective way of outdoor advertising. If something is up in the sky, people tend to look at it. Drones can help generate publicity for a particular brand. Messages can be flown for people to read.
If you plan to use drones for outdoor advertising, then make sure you are familiar with the laws regarding the flying of drones above crowds of people. You will also have to get permission from event organizers to fly your drone.
Marketing campaigns can be taken to the next level using drones.
Monetize Your Drone Content
You can start a YouTube channel and upload your drone content over there. Running a YouTube channel can be a full-time business. You not only get ad revenue, but you can also dab into affiliate marketing, brand deals, and other strategies for monetizing your drone footage.
You can also offer news agencies footage from your drone for locations where reporters cannot physically reach. Examples of such locations can be a crime scene, an accident site, a conflict zone, or a natural disaster area.
However, if you do fly your drone in unsafe areas, then make sure you do so within the laws of the land. You may also need to get permission from government agencies to fly your drone in such places. Recently, firefighters have had disagreements with drone owners flying their drones over forest fires because civilian drones interfered with their own drones.
If you have no interest in actually flying the drones yourself, then you can start a drone rental business.
Rentals are sought by individuals who do not wish to spend a fortune on a professional drone that may be required for a single job. You can fill that need by owning the relatively more expensive drones and then leasing it out.
While you may have to make the initial investment in purchasing the drone, you can recover back the money in a few rentals. The return on investment can be big if your rental business works out well.
If you do rent out drones, then make sure you inform your renters about the legal aspects of flying a drone. Also, you should have your renters purchase an insurance policy covering any damages to your drone. You have to protect your investment in every way possible.
If you are willing to spend some serious money, then you can buy drones that operate underwater. Submersible drones can be purchased for $1000 nowadays. The drone can be connected to a laptop or a smartphone
Underwater drones have to be equipped with powerful lighting to be able to take clear pictures in a dark environment. Waterproof cameras with high resolution are also a must. Using underwater drones for videography and photography is a lot more economical than hiring an underwater diver for a day or so.
Underwater drones can be used to conduct marine research, environmental surveys, aquaculture, and inspections of tanks, propellers, and boat hulls.
As an underwater drone business owner, you can either offer your services of operating the drone and offering clients the resulting footage or you can rent out underwater drone equipment.
There are plenty of ways in which one can start a drone business. Drones clearly have multiple areas of commercial application. No matter which industry you select, it is always a good idea to gather some information about the legal requirements regarding flying drones and operating a drone business.
It is also recommended that you do some market research about the industry that you plan to enter with your drone business. The more research you do, the higher will be the likelihood of success for your new drone business.