Drone Nation integrates custom-built drone hardware and software technologies to provide complete and cost-effective solutions according to customer needs. The startup currently provides drone services in Aerial Photogrammetry, Mapping & Surveying, 3D modelling, Inspection & Monitoring and enables/ assists customers involved in key sectors. Their expertise lies in providing better reach, productivity and authenticity for our clients and they provide them with complete end to end solutions and business intelligence using aerial data.
Drone Nation is powered by a passionate team of 4 from BITS Pilani Goa with background in Electronics, Mechanical, Chemical and Software engineering and who have worked on aerial robotics projects with Lockheed Martin, DRDO, and HAL etc.
We caught up with Vichar Shroff, founder of Drone Nation to understand in-depth about the their startup and aerial surveillance sector in general. Here’s the interview.
Astronaut Today: How did the idea of starting a drone company come to fruition?
Vichar Shroff: This idea was born in November 2015. As Lockheed Martin US based Defence organization had come to India and were offering young techies an opportunity to work on their flagship project Disaster Management payload on C130J. I think that changed our lives.
Yes, we got to work on a module where they wanted to do an airdrop of different things, which included Drone as well for disaster management. Our solid exposure to the Drone technology, which we had developed, and also our meeting with the officials had given us a different perspective about Drones and why is it considered to be a billion dollar industry.
After successfully completing the project, we decided to analyze how profitable it could be if we commercialize in India. Three of us are really fortunate to have met each other. My teammates are amazing. We’ve all agreed to do an extensive research on what we had in our minds. We were amused by our analysis and in July 2016 we started off with Drone Nation.
AT: How do you differentiate Drone Nation from other similar companies in this space?
VS: In India, end-to-end solutions using drones is a relatively untapped market and we plan to carve our own niche in that. Like the internet and GPS before them, drones are evolving beyond their military origin to become powerful business tools. They’ve already made the leap to the consumer market and now Drone Nation is putting them to work in commercial and civil government applications from firefighting to farming.
This is what makes us unique that we are the only one who provides end-to-end aerial solutions to our clients in all sectors. Also the fact that our analytical platform gives a huge advantage in terms of efficiency we produce out of it that isn’t being done by any other competitors.
AT: What are your plans for 2017 with your startup?
VS: Our future plans include patenting of our Aerial Data Analytics Platform, Developing more robust drone technology, Aggressive client acquisition and expansion in further sectors. Also we are looking to expand our service and R & D team as soon as we raise a round of investment.
AT: How has the aerial surveillance sector changed in last few years?
VS: Aerial surveillance sector has changed so much in the past few years. Earlier companies relied on labor to do risky jobs for them. This is changing by convincing them to move towards technology like Drones.
A simple example would be people climbing on to Wind mills to check cracks etc. now the same crew stay on the ground station and analyze the data they get from the air through live feed which can be considered revolutionary. Drone Nation enables to sit at their offices now to check cracks etc. through the dashboard we provide to our clients and thus ensuring our clients save a lot of time and also the risk and helps them take better decisions.
AT: What are some of the challenges that you face in this space?
VS: As a startup our initial challenges was to get capital in order to build hardware. We bootstrapped and got ourselves funds to develop the hardware and software both. Now we are generating good amount of revenue and investing in various tasks to get this company running.
One more important challenge in this space is to take care of regulations before performing a task and we’re glad that most of our jobs are done as per the regulations only. We are aiming to become a major player in both software and hardware by the time DGCA sends out more relaxing regulations.