PodcastStart Ups and Entrepreneurs

Finding Your Drone ROI – Ian Smith, Drone Deploy

ian_headshot_brdLooking for a simpler, easier way to pilot your drone, save time & money and achieve positive drone ROI?

Then today’s guest on the Drone Radio Show has exactly what you need. Ian Smith is with Drone Deploy out of San Francisco and handles their sales and marketing management for the company. Ian has more than 9 years’ experience in the drone industry, some of that with a company in France. His personal, business and international experience gives him a unique perspective on the drone industry. On this edition of the Drone Radio Show, he talks about Drone Deploy, the company’s products designed to improve your bottom line (and drone ROI) and he offers his perspective on the drone industry.

In This Episode

  • [01:14] Introduction to Ian Smith and to Drone Deploy, a company that produces cloud-based software that turns drones into mapping tools. The goal of the company is to make the sky accessible and productive for anyone with a drone.
  • [01:59] Transforming a Drone into a Mapping Tool: Ian discusses how the software works to create aerial maps and improve drone ROI.
  • [04:12] Image Processing: For some hardware configurations, the maps can be processed in real time in the cloud while the drone is flying. This saves a lot of time, but its not yet available with DJI Drones, which requires post flight processing.
  • [06:34] Compatibility and Use: Ian discusses the compatibility and operational differences of the software with various drones. The App is compatible strictly with DJI drones, but any aerial imagery can be processed through the software.
  • [08:13] Mission Planning: Ian discusses how Drone Deploy software can be used to plan a mission before flying. He walks though steps and discusses how easy it is to use Drone Deploy software.
  • [11:02] Flight Information: A variety of flight data is available to the user via Drone Deploy, and the more information can be made available in the future, based on user demands.
  • [11:38] Drone Deploy Users: The top customers for Drone Deploy are in the agriculture, mining and construction industries, but there are also many users that are finding unique ways to leverage the software to obtain positive ROI. For example:
    • Madison D. (Mississippi) – Land surveyor that saved 75 hours of time on a land development project using Drone Deploy
    • Norm L. (Canada) – Soybean grower that achieved an 8% yield increase and about $2,700 in savings on a 55 acre field
    • Derek P. (Northern North Dakota) – Potato farmer was able to identify problems in the field
    • Dale P. (Oklahoma) – Using Drone Deploy software in the construction and oil and gas, he save the company $5,000 from having to use a helicopter to monitor progress on one site. The company has four sites, so potentially, it could result in a savings of $20,000.
    • George K. (California) – Special Events Manager using drones to document the event set up and estimates a $1,000-$2000 savings in future years by basing the set up on the high resolution images, even down to the type of lighting that was used.
    • Sergio L. (Mexico) – Mapped over 1,000 kilometers of roadways, processing 194 maps in Drone Deploy at that same time, saving many man-hours.
  • [17:02] Drone Deploy Blog Posts – All user case studies can be found on Drone Deploy’s blog page.
  • [18:11] Drone ROI – Drone Deploy really tries to simply and accurately define drone ROI that users are getting using the software. The stories are documented on the company’s blog page and provides a reference for other users.
  • [19:09] Ease of Use – If a person can fly a drone, they have the skills and knowledge to use the Drone Deploy software. It’s not any more complicated than using a DJI drone.
  • [19:37] About Ian Smith – Ian discusses his background as a model aircraft enthusiast, a civilian helicopter pilot, his drone start-up company ‘Sky Capture’, his work in France and in the French drone industry and his path to Drone Deploy.
  • [23:25] Lessons Learned from France – Ian discusses how the pace of commercialization of drones in France gave him insights into what could be possible in the United States. The French market also seems a lot less concerned with issues that are of high concern in the U.S.
  • [25:30] Road to Drone Deploy – Ian talks about how he learned about Drone Deploy and how, contacting the company directly, he landed a position with the company and relocated to San Francisco.
  • [27:13] Drone Industry Today and Tomorrow – Ian’s excited about the prospects for growth of the drone industry, especially in the commercial drone sector, once the FAA finalizes its drone rules.
  • [28:32] Company Positioning: Ian discusses how the company is positioning itself for the future growth by expanding its features, customer support and documenting the drone ROI to its customers. As a cloud based company, they can scale and grow with the industry as it expands around the world.
  • [30:02] Final Comments – Ian’s advice to those who are interested in joining the drone industry are to immerse themselves in the drone forums and communities, get a low cost drone and master flying, get a better drone and figure out what you’d like to do with it, think about starting a business. If you’re interested in a career in the drone industry, focus on software development, as Ian feels that will be a driving force moving forward.
  • [31:16] Closing –

Mentioned Links

Aerial data image taken with Drone Deploy software can help your drone ROI
Aerial data image taken with Drone Deploy software
Drone Deploy set up in the field - its what you need to get positive drone ROI
Drone Deploy set up in the field

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    Finding Your Drone ROI – Ian Smith, Drone Deploy Drone Radio Show

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