Dronecast CEO: Its right time to introduce UAS to public

By Luke Geiver | August 28, 2014

Dronecast wants to market your company’s message, and the positive story of the UAS industry. The Philadelphia-based aerial advertising firm that has developed a business model linked to the use of proprietary banners transported via unmanned aerial vehicles recently spoke with the UAS Magazine regarding the company’s short history and the growth of its client base. “There is definitely a huge buzz going on right now with drones,” said GauravJit Singh, CEO of Dronecast. “It is the right time to introduce the technology into the public.”

Singh and his team started the company in April following months of research and development on both large and small UAVs. The team’s initial vision was to use the UAVs to carry a print banner above crowds or other desirable areas. The aerial banners allow companies to market to potential customers from above, Singh said. “We did our first flight on April 29 in Philadelphia. On April 30 we were all over the news. It was more than we ever expected.”

Initially, clients could utilize the Dronecast system on a per-hour basis for roughly $100/hr. Interest from numerous clients has, however, changed the price point for Dronecast’s services, Singh said. Following positive feedback from one large client, the team decided to rethink its stance on the growth potential of the business. “We changed our view of seeing this as a small-time side business to a large-scale enterprise,” Singh said. Since making that change, the team has raised nearly $1 million in venture capital and has been working to upgrade every facet of its business.

The company currently has 15 different small UAVs and another 20 larger UAVs. The team has developed a software package that offers every UAV several failsafe’s. “If a motor fails or something else happens, we can not only keep flying with one motor missing, but we can also deploy a parachute that is relative to the actual size of the drone,” he said.

The banners used for advertising have also been tweaked. Before redesigning the structure and material, the banners would act as a sail and interfere with the aerodynamics of the flight, Singh says. “We had to create our own material,” Singh said. The new banner material is a mix of plastic, silk and a weighted bottom. According to Singh, it is light enough to maintain flight mobility do to porous material features that allow wind to flow through the fabric. In the next few months, the team plans to unveil a digital screen that can also be transported via drone.

To date, the biggest hurdles for the Dronecast team has been from those questioning the legality of the service. The team typically sends out a memorandum from its attorney that explains why the systems can be legally operated. “It basically says that there are policies in place, but there are no laws,” he said.

As his business grows, Singh hopes to offer a franchise capability for Dronecast. He also hopes to help the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration work though the regulation of the industry. “I believe a lot of entrepreneurs that want to get involved [in the UAS industry] are really looking to see how we have progressed. Lucky for them,” he said, “we are doing well. No one knows what can happen but it is looking good for everybody. Drones are going to be at a point in 10 years where the internet is now.”