Using drones for photography and videography is becoming increasingly popular and accessible.
This market is expected to generate $127bil in value by 2025, threefold of what it was last year.
It’s clear that the global drone sector is reaching new heights today, but 3 friends foresaw the potential for the market and decided to tap into it.
They weren’t even in the media industry back then, and simply wanted to make videos for fun.
After buying their first drone, they experimented with it on some of their trips together, one of which caught the attention of many.
They started getting inquiries about aerial media work at first, but companies also began approaching them about mapping and land surveying.
“It made us realise that there was a demand for this new technology and a gap in the industry that we could fill,” said Siddiq.
Thus, DroneCult was born in 2015.
Having Fun While Creating A Portfolio
Prior to their startup, the 3 friends, Siddiq, Amir and Azzam had full-time jobs as a lawyer, IT senior exec and digital marketer respectively.
They did DroneCult part-time since 2015 and only started getting into it full-time last year.
The work is shared between the 3 of them as well as some drone freelancers.
All their freelancers, including themselves, are trained and certified from CIDB, OPITO and PETRONAS.
It wasn’t hard for them to break even within the first few months of the startup, seeing as their only capital was their first drone.
But what about their portfolio?
Wouldn’t it be expensive to travel around and take documentary-like shots to show what you can do?
“Our team members love to travel. We bring our drones whenever we go for personal trips or vacations since we all have a shared interest in photography and videography.”
“So, it doesn’t cost the company anything when it comes to that,” Siddiq shared.
Moreover, as 2 of their founders are experienced in IT and digital marketing, it helped minimise their startup costs further.
They were able to easily design their own website, do online marketing, video/picture editing and graphic designing on their own.
Receiving Clients From Various Industries
Over the years, DroneCult has worked with clients from all kinds of industries.
Their most popular clients are construction companies, but they’ve worked with brands, events, logistics, oil & gas, and utility companies too.
Pricing depends on the client’s needs, and it can range from as low as RM2K all the way up to RM50K based on the job scope and duration of work.
As their popular client is the construction industry, they’d always factor in the risk of harm in their pricing, which ranges from as low as RM500 up to a couple thousand ringgit.
Other than that, they’ll also charge miscellaneous fees such as travel expenses, accommodations and permits fees.
It must be a real treat to get paid while traveling and doing what you love.
So far, they are able to maintain a 5-figure monthly profit consistently.
To help you gauge their profits better, they are able to set aside RM30K of their yearly revenue for annual company trips.
But then again, since these trips help them bring in more work to show on their portfolio, it technically is an investment on their end too.
Though MCO has stagnated their income for 3 months, they still have enough in their savings to go through lows like these.
Staying Ahead Of The Trend
2 years into their startup, they foresaw the rise of drone photography especially as they will get cheaper and more mainstream in the years to come.
Which they aren’t wrong about, as many IG influencers do have more travel photos taken by drones these days.
Hence, their team tapped more into the technical and industrial fields since the beginning to establish a household name for themselves.
They also explored more of what drone technology can do aside from taking photos and videos.
They’ve used their drones for inspection, progress reports, mapping, agriculture, surveys, and more.
As of now, they are in the midst of R&D using drones in agriculture, specifically for spraying and crop management.
While the drone market is growing rapidly, they see this accessibility doing more harm than good.
“The commercial drones in the market nowadays are so easy to fly and get good footage but we see a lot of inexperienced pilots offering their services for below the market average prices.”
“There were many instances where these experienced pilots crash into personal property or even people due to unsafe practices,” Siddiq explained.
Which is why they make it a requirement for all their pilots, including themselves, to get trained and certified.
Any job that pays you to travel while doing what you love is honestly a dream come true for anyone.
However, coming across an opportunity like that takes smarts and sharp predictions of your sector’s market.
It’s not an opportunity that easily comes by anyone any day, but when it does, it’s still necessary to put in work to stay relevant every day, as the DroneCult team have shown.
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Featured Image Credit: Siddiq Rafee, Co-Founder of DroneCult