BIGGEST CHALLENGES - AD-BC Aircam


grhmmckean33

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My biggest challenges are all interlinked and in no particular order are as follows:

  • Funding for both my CAA licensing (PFAW) and for other equipment and software I know I am going to need in order to offer the quality of service I want to offer.
  • At the moment I am in training for my practical part of my PFAW and it has been difficult for me to be able to get out and practice in the outdoors for numerous reasons. So I have had to resort to simulated training and mini indoor drones, but this does not help me when I can't get out to fly my commercial drone, which is bigger and of course performs differently in a real world scenario.
  • I lack experience of flying, filming and surveying in the areas of work I intend to undertake when I am fully licensed, so I have no working portfolio I can draw upon for clients to evaluate my work.
  • I already know all the applications and industries I intend to work within and offer my services to, but my problem is how do I find the clients and of course convince them that I am the person for the aerial work they need. So essentially finding the clients and the work.

 

Thats me in a nutshell, so any millionaire investors with a long list of clients in need of aerial work out there!!!? If so I'm your man!!

Regards

Graham McKean

 

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Thanks for posting, @grhmmckean33.

It's funny, I ask people to post their ONE BIGGEST CHALLENGE, and I get a list of bullet points.

:)

No worries, it's all good stuff, but the reason I asked the question that way was to help you zero-in on that ONE THING you should be working on to push your business forward.

You wrote:

  • I already know all the applications and industries I intend to work within and offer my services to, but my problem is how do I find the clients and of course convince them that I am the person for the aerial work they need. So essentially finding the clients and the work.

Let's start there

In my experience, building a marketing / sales plan for your business is easiest when you've got just one target persona. When I interviewed Matt over at Birds Eye View Productions, I learned that when they were first starting their aerial service business in the UK, they only focused on property / construction videos. That was it. Since then, they've expanded their positioning and service offerings to other verticals, but by focusing on just one area, they were able to build a base of clients, experience, processes, and referrals much quicker.

So I'd push you to think about a few things, like your existing network / email list, your experience and comfort level working with clients, and your passion for certain types of projects and shoots over others. Think about where the low-hanging fruit is in your immediate area.

Does that help at all? What are you leaning toward?

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Yes that does help and makes alot of sense. I am primarily leaning towards Archaological aerial survey and agriculture. Archaeology because I have a background in this area and being a wheelchair user I am not always taken seriously about working on sites, because they perceive too many difficulties which I know can be overcome. So to me aerial archaeology gives me more freedom to work in archaeology because it doesn't necessarily mean I need to fully access a site with my wheelchair and it gives me a skill I know many mainstream archaeologists do not have.

The agricultural side appeals to me because a lot of the aerial sensing and camera equipment used can equally be applied to help farmers with crops etc. and as an added bonus there's a possibility of the odd unknown archaeological discovery being made along the way.

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Is there money to be made in archaeological (aerial) surveys?

And when it comes to agriculture, do you know any farmers or have any experience in the industry?

Just trying to get a sense of 1) what your cash flow situation looks like and whether or not that'll influence your niche in the beginning and 2) what kind of uphill battle you might be facing / what your competitive edge could be in the agriculture industry.

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In answer to your question I did put together a questionnaire that I sent out to universities I had worked with to guage the potential with them for aerial work and although there was a need for it they all seemed reluctant to spend much at all for a service that is actually crucial in identifying a potential site of archaeological interest. I was surprised by their response generally, but there is a need for it despite the reluctance to pay for it, that I think is the biggest hurdle. One respondent even said they were in the process of getting and using drones, but they are not experts in their use and I am pretty sure they would be deploying them without licensing, so they didn't seem aware of all the implications in using them.

Agriculture, I only have one contact that I could approach. However, I did start to compile a database of potential farms I could approach and I even researched areas of the UK that have greater potential for drier conditions generally. In this way I could identify farms that could really benefit from aerial survey to maximise their efficiency in crop production.

Admittedly both areas are not totally straightforward and I still need some more equipment before I could offer the surveying services that they would need. This is why I initially decided that I would keep my scope wide and look at aerial work in all areas.

Cashflow wise, I am having to take more time to build up the business than I had originally anticipated. I really want to be goig out there now and securing work once I have the licensing, but the cashflow is saying slow down!!!! So I am having to watch the money and be careful how I move forward, which is frustrating when I know the industry is taking off more and more and more and more people are taking it up.

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Interesting, thanks for sharing @grhmmckean33.

Archaeological surveys might not bring home the bacon, but it could be a good way to distinguish yourself and offer a unique value proposition that your competitors can't. At the end of the day, you'll have a much better feel for whether or not it's worth your time to go after this niche based on real conversations you're having with folks.

Check out this thread started by another UK-based drone pilot interested in precision agriculture:

 

Hope this helps.

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Thanks Alan,

That is an interesting thread and also looks at the multi spectral imaging systems that I will be investing in which can be applied to both archaeology and agriculture.

So do you think I should concentrate solely on these areas to start with or focus on other areas as well? Reason I ask is because I am starting at the beginning and I really need to make sure I can earn a living from aerial work, there's no "oh well, if it doesn't work never mind" for me I have to make sure it works form the start and more importantly that it earns the money to pay the bills.

Thanks again.

 

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On 3/6/2016 at 9:03 AM, grhmmckean33 said:

Thanks Alan,

That is an interesting thread and also looks at the multi spectral imaging systems that I will be investing in which can be applied to both archaeology and agriculture.

So do you think I should concentrate solely on these areas to start with or focus on other areas as well? Reason I ask is because I am starting at the beginning and I really need to make sure I can earn a living from aerial work, there's no "oh well, if it doesn't work never mind" for me I have to make sure it works form the start and more importantly that it earns the money to pay the bills.

Thanks again.

 

Follow the cash :)

I'd form some hypotheses based on what you think will be the easiest, most lucrative type of customer, and then I'd focus on making sales ASAP to help validate your hypotheses.

Based on what you've said about archaeological surveys, not sure that's the best place to start.

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Your simulator training and micro quad indoor training is not going to waste. In fact, the mico UAV will be some of the hardest flying you will ever do.

Build yourself some training missions for both the simulator and micro quad and then fly them as realistically as possible, including checklists, site survey and a planned approach to how you will acquire data. Also, make sure you have a good logbook and log you simulator and training quad time. 

When yo finally do get outside, run the same scenarios and you will find that in fact the time spend indoors was very worthwhile indeed.

Den

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Alan - I agree that archaeology isn't the best place to start, but being completely new to this I still do not enough about the other potential markets to make an informed decision as to which is the easiest and most lucrative to start me off. Do you have any advice from your experience which areas do have the best customers to start with.... In short "Show me the money!!" :D

Dohara - I know what you mean about flying the minis, they can be more tricky than the bigger ones. I have been doing some planned missions on the simulator but haven't done it properly on my minis, but I will be giving that a try so thanks for that. And I mean the full treat it as a normal job that I will be doing, like you have said, I think that will help it become second nature when I do get to practice outdoors.

Fingers crossed it will help - thanks that has been quite reassuring. ;)

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On 3/9/2016 at 7:53 AM, grhmmckean33 said:

Do you have any advice from your experience which areas do have the best customers to start with.... In short "Show me the money!!"

With no experience / network, promotional videos for real estate brokers and other property managers (resorts, golf courses, ranches, etc.) and small businesses are typically the easier places to start.

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