So far in this series, we have dealt with the initial considerations and decisions to be made when starting a drone business, whether BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) or traditional VLOS (visual line of sight). In the last article, we have also looked at drone operations expenses associated with drone operations, and how to optimize them.
This next installment continues with the theme of enhancing your profitability and focuses on further steps you can take as your business begins to get off the ground in order to drive increased revenue.
Dedicated Focus for Beyond Visual Line of Sight Variables
While putting all your eggs in one basket is traditionally considered a bad plan of action in many areas, it may be a good idea when starting out. Taking on multiple applications or drone industry segments will require different payloads and workflows. This means a whole load of different variables for you to juggle, as well as more money that needs to be spent on equipment.
If you focus on one particular niche first of all and put all of your efforts into dominating it, the road to profitability will be less complex as you start to gain experience. Many of the lessons learned from your first niche will be transferrable, making it easier to expand into additional applications later on.
Pricing Models for BVLOS Services
Offering a range of pricing models is a good way to serve the needs of as many different clients as possible. Some clients may require your services for only a small amount of jobs, and taking on this piecemeal work is a good way to build a reputation that will eventually lead to long-term relationships with clients, with high volumes of work.
Options for payment structure may include:
Per asset or task – this may be a good option for clients with multiples of the same task, such as pylon or wind turbine inspection, delivery route, or building photography
Per flight/per day – a good option for less “countable” tasks, such as BVLOS inspection or photography of large areas, or monitoring over a set period of time
Monthly/yearly subscription – for larger deals and long-term relationships with companies that can guarantee you a lot of work
Another aspect of your pricing options to consider is the addition of value-added services. Many drone applications generate data that requires further processing, such as aerial photos, sensor data or video. Performing this processing yourself or outsourcing to a partner provides an additional revenue stream that you can build into your pricing models.
In addition to data processing, other services that this idea could be applied to include insurance, connectivity, and vehicle maintenance – all things that clients will gladly pay you to take care of and ensure peace of mind.
Strategic Partner for BVLOS Technology
While a basic VLOS-based drone business may be relatively simple, there are a lot of extra moving pieces required for more complex applications, and you cannot do it all yourself! Strategic partnerships allow you to take advantage of specific industry expertise and integrate advanced technology into your operations, unlocking more capabilities and thus increasing revenue.
Aspects that strategic partners can help with include:
Drone manufacturers – over the last few years, a huge variety of drone manufacturers has sprung up offering a range of capabilities. There may be an off-the-shelf solution that will suit all your needs, which will save development time and costs, as well as ensure that all components of the solution work well together.
UTM (unmanned traffic management) operators – as drone operations become more and more widespread, if you want to operate BVLOS, it is likely that you will have to sign up with a UTM drone service that handles the monitoring and management of unmanned air traffic. While this is not a consideration just yet, it will likely be in the near future.
Flight computers – for advanced BVLOS missions, you may require onboard computing capabilities that can handle tasks such as navigation in crowded areas and detect-and-avoid (DAA). Flight computing manufacturers may be able to customize an onboard processing solution to your exact needs.
Connectivity – one of the most important components of a BVLOS-capable drone platform is a robust drone connectivity solution that provides maximum safety, reliability and failover protection. Without this, you will not be able to achieve the certification required to expand into BVLOS operations.
If a BVLOS drone connectivity solution is what you need to evolve your drone operations to the next level, Elsight’s Halo is the ideal solution. Featuring advanced bonding technology that aggregates multiple cellular IP links, the Halo Bond Box and Halo OEM Card constantly checks for compromised channels arising from communications “dead zones”, and automatically reroutes to the most suitable channel for your application’s particular needs.
BVLOS Communication Solutions
Elsight is also more than just an equipment provider – we can help you with regulatory compliance and scaling up to BVLOS with our flexible SMART Start program. We also offer a variety of CAAS (connectivity as a service) solutions, the benefits of which you can pass on to your clients and provide additional value.