Last week, we talked about the problem that DroneBase is working on: there is nothing to do with your drone.
As we said earlier, the average drone gets flown about 6 times per year, and we hear from pilots every single day whose drones are sitting on the shelf, collecting dust. This week, we want to talk about our solution to this problem, and why it matters to us.
Our Solution: DroneBase is giving pilots drone missions to fly.
We define a ‘drone mission’ as an organized, coherent activity that provides value to a drone pilot and a customer. Simply taking off and landing on the roof doesn’t count, but getting a homeowner their insurance claim paid faster via a DroneBase Aerial Inspection does.
While this sounds simple, this core idea of a drone mission means a lot to the DroneBase team.
In 2012, the drone space was very much a home-brew community. We would build most of our own systems: wiring, soldering, and lightly programming kits and custom rigs. We would meet up in parks in day and night to set up race tracks, compare the latest technology, and swap stories of that pioneering construction site manager that would pay a little money for a drone flight. There really wasn’t a distinction between Professional, Semi-Professional, or Hobbyist pilots – we were all the same enthusiastic early-adopters.
When we started DroneBase, one of our core principles was that drone pilots should be at the heart of the company. We would only succeed if our pilot community succeeded. This company exists to serve our pilots and our purpose is to give pilots missions to fly with their drones.
We started in 2014 with DroneBase Pro Missions. We believe that being a drone pilot is a profession, and it seemed like the best place to begin was helping the small but growing group of professional pilots find rewarding, challenging, and steady drone work. Today, DroneBase Pro Missions have been completed in all 50 US States and over 60 countries around the world. Our Pro Missions have paid professional drone pilots millions of dollars. Pro Missions have given our pilots the opportunity to complete complex, technical drone flights for the largest Insurance, Construction, Telecom, and Oil & Gas enterprises in the world.
As we built this global drone mission pilot network, we heard two clear pieces of feedback:
- We heard every single day that our pilots still wanted more to do with their drones.
- We heard from other pilots who needed a more flexible solution because they could not yet commit the time or resources required to be a drone professional full-time.
To address this feedback from our community, DroneBase launched flexible drone missions in November of 2016. These missions are tailored for pilots who value flexibility and are paid on a royalty basis. Our first foray into flexible flights were our Pano Missions, which allowed pilots to complete simple real estate jobs in their local neighborhoods. More recently, we launched Creative Missions with our anchor partner Getty Images, where any pilot in the world can capture a 4K drone video that will be featured on the world’s premiere stock photography site.
Today, we continue to hear two clear pieces of feedback. We still hear from pilots every single day that they want even more to do with their drones. Increasingly, we also hear from pilots who might be interested in commercial drone work, or flexible drone missions, but also want to fly their drone just for fun.
This is no surprise to us. It reminds me of being back in the park in 2012. The gaps in skill are bigger now, and the specialization goes deeper now, but we are still the same group of (somewhat nerdy) early adopters as 5 years ago. We all just want more to do with our drones, and we all just want drone technology to play an integral, daily part of our commercial, creative, or fun pursuits.
So, if the problem is that there is nothing (or at least not nearly enough) to do with your drone, the DroneBase Team’s purpose in life is to give pilots drone missions to fly with their drones.
In the coming weeks, we will be excited to tell (and show!) you more about our greater vision that can be realized if we solve this problem and the technology that will let us provide exponentially more missions to pilots all over the world.
Dan Burton is the CEO and co-founder of DroneBase. Dan served as a Marine Infantry Officer in Iraq and Afghanistan; he now builds and pilots a variety of drone platforms in California. Dan previously worked in Goldman Sachs’ Technology, Media & Telecom group; the US Marine Corps; and the US Senate. He has an MBA from HBS and a BA from NYU.