Commercial use of drone technology is growing rapidly and is set to be worth around $63.6 billion by the year 2025. From photography and cinematography to surveying and inspection, drones are being used for many different applications. Industries that will lead the way in utilising drone technology in their operations include agriculture, construction, mining, public safety, oil & gas and even logistics. However, many companies, large or small, will outsource their drone service needs to specialist businesses and this creates a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to start a drone business. In this article, we shall reveal the 8 best drone business ideas that you can start.
Starting A Drone Business? Get Registered!
One thing to note is that, if you are going to be operating a drone for commercial purposes, you will need to register your drone and pass an exam.
This is the case in the USA and UK, for any other country, it is probably the same but do your own research and make sure you are familiar with what will be required from you to start a drone business.
In the USA, you will need to pass the Part 107 exam, this is a two hour test that will require you to achieve at least 70% to pass. There are many Part 107 courses that you can take and enhance your chances of passing the first time.
I recommend the Pilot Institute Part 107 course as they have a 99% success rate with their students and have a money-back guarantee.
In the UK, it is slightly, you will need to obtain an Operator and Flyer ID, the Flyer ID will require you to pass a small online test.
However, depending on the level of risk involved with the drone operation, you may also need to obtain an A2 COFC certificate or even a General Visual Line of Sight certificate (GVC).
8 Best Drone Business Ideas
1. Drone Photography/Videography
This probably provides the easiest path to starting a drone business, especially if you are already a professional photographer and want to add drone photography services to your business.
The good thing is, as drones have become popular and sophisticated, their prices have come down, so investing in a good drone for photography/videography will not cost you more than $1000.
In fact, one of the best drones for this purpose is the DJI Air 2S, which costs less than $1000 and comes equipped with a camera that has a large 1-inch image sensor and can capture 5.4k videos and 20MP images.
There are cheaper options as well such as the DJI Air 2, DJI Mini 2 and the Autel Nano Plus, all of which cost less than $1000.
There are many areas where you can get started with drone photography services, from wedding and real estate photography to special occasions like concerts, conferences, and sports events.
You could also sell your images and video footage to stock photography sites like Shutterstock, iStock, Depositphotos, Bigstock, Dreamstime and 123rf.
2. Drone Surveying/Mapping
This is a specialist area where you may require additional training on how to conduct an accurate drone survey and then process the data into different types of maps and 3D models using photogrammetry software.
Drone mapping and surveying are growing in popularity as it is a faster and more efficient method than using traditional ground-based tools.
It’s also less risky as drones will eliminate the need for surveyors to walk around areas that may not be safe and just map an entire area from a remote distance.
Mapping with drones is being adopted by several large industries such as construction, agriculture and mining.
This could be an ideal business opportunity for qualified surveyors looking to freelance and start taking their own clients.
It will take a significant investment in equipment to get started, this includes a high-end drone like the Phantom 4 Pro RTK, a base station and photogrammetry software like Drone Deploy.
3. Drone Inspection
Like drone photography, drone inspection doesn’t require you to have deep technical knowledge of building inspections, although it will help.
Buildings always need regular inspections for safety reasons and to comply with the law, however, it can be a risky task, especially if the area of the building to be inspected is unsafe, high up or in a place that is hard to get to by foot.
Drones can eliminate all those issues and allow anyone to carry out regular inspections of any type of building on a regular basis.
A good way to start a drone inspection business would be to get in touch with local builders and roofers and see if they would be willing to sub-contract roof inspections.
Although any high-quality drone from DJI, Autel or Parrot would be good for inspection services, the best drones are ones that come with both an RGB camera and a thermal imaging camera.
This will allow you to capture more data and provide your clients with a more thorough inspection report.
4. Build A Drone Related Course
If you are good at teaching and love drones, it might be worth your while to build a course around a drone related subject.
The online education/learning industry is huge, people are always looking to learn new things from the comfort of their homes.
There are a lot of drone courses that you can take some inspiration from, for example, there are courses on passing the FAA Part 107 certificate, the CAA GVC certificate, drone photography, drone mapping, and even building a drone business.
If you have expertise in a certain area of drone related subjects, you can build a course around it, its not easy, but if you are a good teacher and can put together videos, PowerPoint presentations or even an eBook on any drone subjects to do with drones, its worth a shot.
5. Drone Repair Service
If you have a technical background and love repairing things, starting a drone repair business might be a good option.
Consumer drones are sophisticated electronic robots, people will crash them or misuse them and they will require regular maintenance and repair.
In most cases, it will be far cheaper to get a drone repaired instead of purchasing a new one. As drones are becoming more popular, there will always be a need for a drone repair service much like there are repair services for popular electronic devices.
6. Drone Reseller
This type of business will require some significant investment, but it can be a profitable one if you do your market research.
Remember, DJI may be the most popular drone brand, but they are not the only player in town. There are a lot of smaller brands are looking for resellers and the investment will not be as much as reselling big named brands such as DJI, Autel and Parrot drones.
Of course, if you have a large amount of money to invest, you can look at reselling commercial drones that have applications in agriculture, construction, mining, surveillance etc.
7. Drone Software Application
Flight management, photogrammetry, air traffic awareness, apps that can analyse images and video data in real-time, if you are a talented software developer, you can develop drone apps that will help with many aspects of drone commercial operations.
There are two ways you can build a drone software application, if you are a talented software engineer, you can develop the app yourself or you can outsource through freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr.
8. Become A Drone Blogger/ YouTuber
There are a lot of successful websites and blogs completely dedicated to drones, their technology and their applications. As it is a huge and growing industry, there will always be new drones on the market and a growing number of ways they can be used for commercial applications.
You can start a blog/website or YouTube channel on any number of drone related topics, one area where drones are set to grow rapidly is in delivery and passenger transport.
You could also review products, write about the latest drone related news, offer tutorials on things like best drone photography practices, etc.