1 in 10 Indian Startups will be flying drones by 2020


1 in 10 Indian Startups will be flying drones by 2020

Republishing the article written by our Founder & CEO on linkedin:

Be honest, you come across a startup that is doing exactly what has been done in overseas country you visited. Or you come across a startup that is working on a product or service module which is never heard-of or done it!.

Most of the so called torch-bearer / poster boys of India’s startup has done it effectively, only the difference is the region. And investors were confident of a proven track than un-known. As per definition – they are business-mens than entrepreneurs. Agree?

After seeing e-commerce entertainment for last 5 years, India is gearing up for new releases of drone startups. Trailers of DJI’s and marriage videography created much news that this is going to be wannabe’s platform to startup for.

Local Startups that started manufacturing drones for hobby & recreational with fly time of 5 -10 minutes crashed the way their machines did. A college project then turned to setup a team to win a price in an university / win an seed investor lost the focus and life. SMB’s who’s idea to develop a drone according to one’s specification never provided the results. 99.9% is sourced from china where it is just labeled as Indian Made! exclusively for Startup India, Stand Up India.

*Do not take me as a discouraging soul. I am not. However i am not going to buy the bed time stories either*

““ We will not invest into something which has roadblocks. It might be a lucrative option but we never know when policies are in place to scale up – Fund Manager of a VC firm ”

Until FAA came up with policy in USA, 85% of world was thinking drone as a great toy like DJI, Parrots etc. Rest 5% were delivery guys from amazon, DHL & few. 5% were defence and 5% were agriculture & remote sensing. DJI & parrots made quadcopter toys and became a hit $ companies. Yamaha created its R-MAX crop duster 10 years ago, before we get to know – see – buy drones.

Fast-paced growth of DJI & Parrots type enterprises provides less room for a newcomer / startup get into selling toys & grow to be there competitor. In service sector, few startups started offering drone photography to real-state projects and few went to assist police forces to manage crowds on very few occasions. It was all nice, great stories, young guys from our town / city / college or streets – building enterprises for tomorrow . . . . Until,

October 7th, 2014 – NO CIVILIAN CAN LAUNCH UAV / UAS WHAT SO EVER. . .Isn’t it a great entry in the story?

Don’t ask me what happened to the startups. Started to up. “Yes, I can never meet an entrepreneur in India who wants to do something which is banned by govt.” same way “One can never find a mentor / investor who ready to invest in your startup which is struck with govt. policies{unless the money has already been invested}”

Fine, lets get licenses:

DGCA – permissions, DGFT – banned goods import license, WPC of DOT – approval for usage of frequency, ANSP – license to fly and communicate, Defence & ultimately Customs – need all 5 other agencies licences with 33% import duty. More over – get each fly permission from 3 of them! SO IT IS “almost” IMPOSSIBLE . .

Lets get drone policy done:

India will be the 6 /7th country to do so, why are you in so hurry? from 2014 – 2017 till today, our agencies are working hard to find the way out. A bureaucrat has at least 30 years of time to think, study, discuss, amend and present it for panel approval, a startup can hold breath for barely a year or two. Who wins?

Then how our heroes rise & fly?

Lets ask them? how many of you went against all odds and went out of your chamber to present it to your real customers than your potential investor / bodies of grants?

How many of you effectively got engaged with govt to formulate drone policy? How many have you read the draft policy and submitted your comments to DGCA within specific time? Did you agree to all the policy matters? or asked modification to noted points? have you discussed with industry peers / so called your competitors? or even a startup whom you know, also doing the same business?

Most-likely not.

Colleges you were graduated from, taught you to WIN THE RACE / BE 1st Above competition. Never told you that your competitor also puts similar efforts to spreads the knowledge of a product, so customer awareness is more when many players are trying to do the same. Lone startup which try to penetrate its product {which never heard-of} is most difficult than a prospective customer aware of your category but not your product. It also provides greater reach by sharing resources. A startup assembles drones, another provides software / auto pilot technologies, another puts it in to service.

*Before writing this article I spoke to 15+ drone startups in India*

Every startup I spoke were telling me that they are first to do so in the country. They have no direct competitors nor they know some other startup doing this in their city. Surprisingly THEY “Claimed” ALL HAD RELATED DOC / Govt. APPROVAL TO DO SO!

This made me realise that 1st batch of the entertainments are not going to be a good watch! since they never travelled any near / far to save their businesses or showed love to protect it from all angles. Most importantly, many of their machines did never worked as mentioned on paper. They hardly associated with any superior agencies / universities to localise the technology according to the region’s need. As per my findings, there are 35 precision agriculture & drone mapping / surveying companies around globe (except India) and their research, progress, keen to solve specific problems highly showcased in their work.

I happened to discuss with people from Lehman Aviation-France, Honeycomb-USA, Yamaha-Australia & FAE-SouthAfrica as well as HSE-USA; where their core focus was to implementing drone technology to their areas than selling / flying them. Drones were not their show toys, rather their outputs / results were. They extensively travelled to length & breadth of potential customers and conducted demo tests, not only to show how a drone fly, but to de-code generated crop health monitoring data with help of plant pathological institutions / research bodies and observe the effectiveness of remedies undertaken. No one was interested to talk about their drones, than its purpose & impact.

Thats the big difference when you speak to both side of the startups.

One’s are here to thrive.. others are copying where they don’t know to paste.