The commercial drone industry is seeing explosive growth, and one start-up is betting that the real money will come from delivering drone software and services — rather than manufacturing the flying devices themselves.
"We doubled our team in the last six months, and we doubled the capabilities of our product," said DroneDeploy CEO Michael Winn. "The market has been reacting by flying a lot more drones over a lot more things."
DroneDeploy aims to build the go-to operating system for drones.
Its software automates drone flight, allowing users to fly drones made by market leader DJI with the tap of a mobile app. The drone flies a path preset by the user and captures images of the ground. Users then upload the aerial images to the cloud where DroneDeploy's software analyzes the data to create interactive maps and 3-D models. It offers a free service for casual users, but most business users pay for higher levels of service that range from $99 to $299 a month.
DroneDeploy also launched an app store in November, which lets developers sell custom apps for industry verticals, and in February it hired two new executives, from Salesforce and Netsuite, to help service larger customers and announced a deal with premium drone manufacturer Aeryon.