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Hakusan

Long term aim

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Hi everyone,

I am an American living 30 years in Tokyo. I want to in several years semi retire to start a drone business here, probably largely focused on agriculture. Demand is strong here due to technology shortages and population declines. 

I will likely lurk here. I need ideas on drones/software to buy, and on how to run a business. I am a moderately experienced hobby pilot of a Spark but will look to upgrade of course if I push into business. Soon of course I will get a commercial license—several schools have opened of late. 

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Welcome.  

The commercial drone industry in the US has changed a lot since the introduction of Part107 and is going to change even more over the next two years.  No one knows what those changes will be so a key component to success will be how your company adjusts and accounts for the changes.

It’s great that your taking a longer view of this.  There will be a lot of pundits prognosticating about the future, including [especially] me, it’s the nature of forums.  I pointed that out in a different thread and got slammed for it, I guess not everyone appreciates my sarcasm but I guess I deserved it.  At any rate taking a long term approach allows you to asses commercial business opportunities differently. 

Most people start with the drone, get enamored with it and then try to figure out how to make money with it.  I’d recommend a different strategy.  At the moment there are two types of drones 1) A drone that might be very good at what it does but is so tightly vertically integrated that you have to modify your mission in order to accommodate it, and 2) drones that are designed to be a platform, open and extensible, modular so they can be easily reconfigured to meet your mission requirements. 

This difference is systemic.  The development methodology is defined by the market the manufacturer began in.  For example DJI started as a consumer drone company, all design, technology and policy are developed from the perspective of a consumer.  The Phantom3 camera and batteries don’t work with a Phantom4, the batteries and RTK system on the M200 does’t work on the M600, but the same GEO Fencing and NFZ policy, something that restricts the use of the drone is implemented the same on MAVIC as it is on the M600.  None of this is becuase of the limitation in the technology but in the approach they use to develop it.  

There are a lot of holes in the eco system required to support the commercial drone industry.  These holes are quickly being filled by the industry leaders from the consumer drone market.  Trouble is although they have the influence, they’re so vertically integrated they lack all the required components to provide professionals with an end to end value chain.  This is good for anyone willing to look beyond the drone and focus on a link in the value chain in a way that these larger companies can’t or aren’t willing to.  

Good luck in your research.

 

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