Fuller Wallet Media

Fuller Wallet Media

Fuller Wallet Media

The Drone Secrets With Damon Darnall – The Drone Boss

FWM 4 Damon | Flying Drones

Flying drones today is becoming way easier and cheaper as technology continues to advance. With the drone space now one of the hottest spaces out there, monetizing it is a great source of income. Joining Julie Houston and Gem Rinehart is The Drone Boss, Damon Darnall. He opens up about how his childhood dream of flying a drone led to him developing a program that helps people start their own drone businesses. Damon also discusses the opportunities that await those in the drone industry and some valuable tips on securing success in this space.

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The Drone Secrets With Damon Darnall – The Drone Boss

We have our guest, Damon. He is over a Sky Network. Starting off, Damon, let us know a little bit about yourself.

I love drones. That’s one of the things. This has been a passion of mine for decades. I’ve been flying drones commercially and making money with them for several years now. Almost too long. May years ago, I started helping people start their own drone businesses and learn how to monetize it and start making money with it. In the last few years, it’s accelerated with the adoption of drones and drones are getting easier to fly and stuff. That’s what I do.

I have to know, out of everything in the world, what brought you to drones? What made you get into that space?

If we go way back to where it all started, I was a little kid. We went to a mall. I was running through the mall and tripped on my shoelaces. I had wiped out and I was crying. I was like five years old. I’m bawling and crying. I look up and there were these big, giant drones hanging on the ceiling of this store. I was like, “That’s the coolest thing ever.” My dad finally came up and I said, “I want one of those.” We went and talked to the guy and found out how expensive they were. They were thousands of dollars.

This was back a long time ago. He’s like, “No, these are big boy’s toys. These are adult toys,” but I wanted one. I stayed with it. He humored me, but I’m sure he thought, as most kids, kid’s got attention spans like goldfish, so the next day it’ll be on to something newer and better, but I always like a dog with a bone. I wouldn’t let go. I wanted it. Anyway, he decided that, “I’ll tell you what, we’ll build one,” because that was the only option we had back then. We built one. We started researching it. We’d go on these little field trips every Saturday.

We went out to a drone field and went out and met some of the guys out there that were flying. Back then, these poor guys were always missing like 1 or 2 fingers because they had to start the drones with their hand and a lot of times, they weren’t set right or they would backfire. They’d cut their finger off. My dad’s like, “We need something without a motor. We’ll get a glider. Something that we can glide around and do that.” Bottom line, we found a kit. We decided on one. It was going to be $38 and I had to earn the money. There weren’t a lot of income opportunities for a five-year-old. I started that Christmas before my grandfather had got me.

I was like the coolest kid in the neighborhood. Remember those little Hot Wheels, a little Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars? He got me 101 Hot Wheels because my sister was in love with 101 Dalmatians, so she got stuffed animals and my grandfather got me 101 Hot Wheels. I couldn’t write very well back then, but I made this. My mom showed me years later. I totally forgot about it, but I was brokering Hot Wheels with all the kids in the neighborhood because I had more Hot Wheels than anyone and everybody wanted the trade.

I charged a $0.5 commission to broker these deals and I would trade the Hot Wheels for everybody then I do other little jobs. I couldn’t mow lawns or anything. I wasn’t old enough or big enough, but I would pull weeds for neighbors. I would do any little side job I could. I wrote letters in crayons to family members like, “Please help me with my drone project for birthday, Christmas and Easter,” and any money that would come in.

FWM 4 Damon | Flying Drones
Flying Drones: Data gathering can be accomplished much faster and more efficiently using drones. That’s essentially what humans can get a lot for as far as businesses go after more money and less liability.

 

Finally, I got enough money, bought it and we built the drone. It was about fourteen months to get it all built and everything. We did our first flight and it was the most exciting, exhilarating and euphoric seven seconds of my life until it crashed down and blew up in a million pieces. It was the most devastating experience my little, at that time, six-year-old body had ever experienced.

That was a very long time ago.

We ended up rebuilding it then I finally learned to fly. I was eaten up with it then I started competing. I represented the US team in the early drone racing. If you’ve ever heard of FPV racing or Drone Racing, we used to do it way back in the day in the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and these were a little bit different style drones, but they were fast. They’d fly about 250 miles an hour and they pull 46Gs in the corner. They were. Anyway, finally, that then led to starting a drone business and making money with it in doing that.

You found your passion at such a young age. Fast forward to 2022, you’re now the drone boss. Why do you think that the drone industry is exploding now?

I hate to sound cliché, but it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and all the planets are aligning. Everything is perfect. What I mean by that is like for decades, it was a self-regulating industry. Meaning it took, on average, about 5,000 to 8,000 flight hours to even be good enough to begin to think about flying drones commercially and most people wouldn’t do it. There wasn’t much opportunity but now, drones are easier to fly and harder to crash than ever before. The ease of use, anybody can learn to fly drones in a few hours. It’s easier to fly than ever.

Is it really?

It’s ridiculously easy.

I would think it’s complicated.

Flying drones is like riding a wave. It takes a lot of effort to get on one. But once you do, it does all the work for you. Click To Tweet

No, it’s so easy now because the computers do all the work. Imagine self-driving cars in the next twenty years. That’s where drones are now. They have sensors. It’s almost like a video game. If you get confused or panic, you let go of the sticks and a drone stops so you can think. It keeps the altitude. It compensates for the wind and adjusts for everything. It’s got object avoidance sensors. If you try and fly into something, it won’t let you. It’s gotten so easy.

That is so crazy. I got to ask just to know. When you bought your first drone eons ago, 5, 6 years old. Now, what’s the cost basis range? Is there a range? Maybe a comparable range.

Back then, it was a lot more expensive compared to what it is now. It’s with any industry. As technology comes out, then it ends up, you finally get to a price saturation point, but the quality gets better. Look at flat-screen TVs. When the flat-screen with plasma TVs first came out, they were like $20,000 to $30,000. Some of them even pushing $40,000 for a 42-inch plasma TV.

Now, you can go to Walmart and you can get a 55-inch for $250. It’s crazy. That’s what we’ve seen with the drone. The technology keeps getting better and better and the price keeps coming down. We’ve hit a market stabilization point for what I consider prosumer drones that are good enough that you can make money with. That price is about $1,000. We’re not seeing the price come down much under that, but we’re seeing the quality go way up literally.

That’ not bad.

You can get for $1,000 nowadays what would have cost about $80,000 years ago. It’s basically the exact same drone in technology. That’s the other reason why the industry’s exploding because now that the drones are better than ever, it’s easier to fly. Also, companies are realizing all the benefits. This is one thing that blows my mind. Drones can go up and do inspections for cell towers, bridges, power lines, wind farms and all this stuff.

Currently, we’re sending human beings up there. In 2021, there were over 300 fatalities for doing these types of inspections. The scary part is that 82% of those fatalities were doing a routine inspection that a drone could easily do now, but they’re not there yet. They’re already slowly adopted. I look at that and I’m like, “We could be saving lives now.” We’re not yet, but we’re on that cusp. The other side of it is the information we get. We can get better data. We can get it faster and more efficiently than essentially what humans can get in a lot of these cases.

All that equates to, as far as businesses go, more efficiency for the business and more money and less liability. You get to save lives, make your business run better and faster and produce more money. That’s what you’re doing for your clients, which is huge. It’s cool because it’s right at the cusp where we’re in the middle of it, so it doesn’t feel like it. I imagine this is how it felt during the invention of the automobile industry, the motorized carriages or any disruptive industry, which is what we have here, even cell phones, like when cell phones first came out or computers. Remember when personal computers came out? They thought, “That’s stupid. Nobody’s going to want a computer in their home.”

FWM 4 Damon | Flying Drones
Flying Drones: If you have the resources and someone who can hold you accountable, you have a bigger chance of success in the drone space.

 

Look at our world now. You can’t live without a phone or a computer. I’m literally living without a phone now and I can tell you, it’s been the most 24 hours of anxiety I’ve never experienced in my life.

It’s like, “What would we do? What would you do?”

I know because I’m like, “I live off of that phone like crazy.” It sounds like, from what you’re telling me there’s so much opportunity out there. Does it seem like an open opportunity for a lot of people now, 2022? Do you think it’s still a huge opportunity?

Yes. The cool thing is it’s literally wide open. Now, the supply for drones is way down here. The amount of meat that’s there, but the demand is way up here. It’s not going to be like that forever, but we have a window of probably 1 to 3 years before this catches up. When it catches up, it’s not that you can’t start a drone business or make money in the drone industry. It’s going to be like every other business at that point. It’ll be like opening up a pizza shop. You can still do it, but it’s a lot harder now.

The neat thing about it is there are so many different paths you can take. We’ve identified over 300 vertical markets. Think about them as divisions in your business like if you were in the automotive business. You could have a paint and body shop, a repair shop or a car dealership. There are 300 different ones in the drone business now or in the drone industry. There’s going to be more created. If you look at the most competitive one now, the most competition is real estate. Real estate photography and videography but depending on what report you read. There’s somewhere between 7% and 9% market saturation in the real estate industry.

What that means is that you have over 90% of the marketplace is wide open, untouched. It hasn’t even made a dent in it. If you think about it, every MLS listing that’s out there. The MLS, when it first came out, wouldn’t allow pictures because they thought, “Nobody’s going to want to look at pictures on a screen. They’re going to want to go there and see it in person.” They didn’t even allow that.

They’re like, “I’ll go live.”

Now, in MLS, you can’t even upload a listing unless you have pictures. The same thing. Look at all the listings that don’t have aerial imagery or drone footage. That’s going to be the standard. A lot of people think because they’ve seen a couple of pictures on MLS, “It’s saturated,” and it is compared to the rest of the marketplaces but only 7% to 9% saturated. If you went to any other industry and said, “There’s 90% of the market is wide open.” People would be like, “That’d be like a dream come true.” It’s pretty cool.

Nothing has been standardized yet in the drone space, especially pricing deliverables. It creates massive opportunities, but things can get difficult if you don't have the right guidance. Click To Tweet

That answered one of the questions that I didn’t want to ask, but if somebody wants to get in the drone business, how much money would you be able to say that they would make? What would that opportunity be?

It depends on the person. It’s like working out or if you wanted to get in shape, but the reality is if you have the resources meaning you have a good gym, a trainer, someone that that’s going to guide you through it and hold you accountable, then your chances for success are a whole lot more. We do a lot of advanced training and help people get started with drone businesses. In fact, we just had a graduate. Four days after graduating from our program after completing everything, he got a contract for $150,000. The great thing about this is he’s essentially working for six hours every Friday to fulfill this contract.

That’s it?

That’s it. That’s the beauty. It’s awesome. That’s the cool thing about owning your own business.

It sounds like there’s a lot of freedom in it too. It’s like owning your own business and having the freedom and flexibility to do what you want. All the different verticals sound like a no-brainer to me in that sense.

It’s fun. It’s easy. In the beginning, it’s a little difficult, like riding a bike but compared to other stuff. You don’t have to go out and get a four-year degree. You don’t have to do all kinds of crazy certifications. It doesn’t take you months or years to get up to speed. You can literally do it. We do a four-day immersion training program. We do a three-day and to a more advanced four-day one. We teach how you can literally go out the next week and start generating income, which is pretty cool.

Do people do that?

Big boys and girls get their toys and making money.

FWM 4 Damon | Flying Drones
Flying Drones: An aerial image or video blows most people’s minds even the quality is almost laughable.

 

In fact, one of the things we do is inside our network, which is all of our drone entrepreneurs. People who have started their own drone businesses. We give them awards followed by the military challenge coins or that same theme. We have awards where we give for our five-figure earners, our six-figure earners, and multiple six-figure earners. People that have passed the $250,000 mark. The half-million-dollar mark, the three-quarter of a million-dollar mark. We have guys that own drone businesses that are making more than a million dollars with their drone business which is exciting to see that.

I don’t see it being an over-competitive market. I feel like there’s a huge opportunity now. As you said, now is the time in this window of opportunity. Right this very moment.

We have a 1 to a 3-year window because a lot of people are getting into it, but the demand is so high. It’s like riding a wave. If you’ve ever surfed, it takes a lot of effort and work to get up on the way. Once you’re on the wave, you’re just riding the wave and the waves doing all the work. That’s where we are now. It’s like if you can get on the wave and you let it pull you up. It’s insane. The coolest part about it now is that you’re providing aerial data like an aerial image or video or something, that in itself blows most people’s minds.

The quality that you have to deliver is almost laughable because it doesn’t have to be that good. It’s the fact that they’re aerial shots. I watch these TV shows that have their onsite drone pilots and they basically break all of the simple rules, but they’re on TV. It’s like, “You don’t do this, this and that.” They’re breaking all three of them. They’re doing all of it, but they’re on TV. Now, in a couple of years, that won’t fly. That’s not going to be acceptable. They’re going to require higher standards for it, but now, if it’s an aerial shot, that’s good enough in most cases.

That makes it even easier to get in. For people to get in now and start doing it, they’re going to naturally progress and get better, like learning to ride a bike. If you’re doing it every day, you get good at it. A few years from now, when other people are trying to get into the business, they’re going to have to be at this way higher level than everyone else is. It’s going to make it much more difficult. Plus, you’re already established. You have the relationship. You have the contracts.

Most importantly, which is something everyone overlooks and I think that’s probably one of the biggest benefits that we provide in our training and in our network, is the confidence because if you feel confident that you can do this and you go out there. You’ve got a track record of doing it, then that makes it so much easier to go out there and do it. In the beginning, a lot of people are lacking that confidence or don’t think that, “I can do this or I can charge that. How much do I charge her? What do I do?” All this stuff that we outlined and made it easy for them.

I can see that a lot of people are asking that. They don’t know what to do like, “Where do I begin? What do I do?” Some people are even scared to approach people like, “How do we even talk to people?” That’s cool. I know that you have a book and we’re going to give away a free copy of your book to our audience. We graciously want to accept that you’re giving that away for us. Thank you very much, Damon.

The link to that is FullerWalletMedia.com/dronebook and you can get that free drone book now. Dan, we also have your free webinar, a training that overviews everything we went over here. We have a link for that at FullerWalletMedia.com/drone. That will give us more sky view of everything we discussed.

If you invest in yourself, invest in your education. That will pay dividends that can turn years into weeks, shortening your curve dramatically. Click To Tweet

It’s a deeper dive for anyone that’s interested in learning more about the industry, the opportunities and what’s there. I’d encourage you to check it out. If you want to dive in more, learn more, and start making some serious money, then we can help you with that too.

We’re so happy to have you on our show. It’s been such an honor.

Thank you. Likewise. You guys are awesome. I’m super passionate about this industry and getting responsible, safe pilots out there and impacting and helping this big transition because drones are going to be doing delivery in medical supplies stuff and equipment and search and rescue and all kinds of stuff. Sooner than later. Out in your neck of the woods, in Texas, we got the first US company that was approved for delivery. They’re up in Dallas and Frisco, but they’re delivering medicine. Walgreens. Anything at Walgreens, they’ll deliver it to you. It’s pretty cool.

Are you serious? I didn’t hear that.

All I hear are gas prices are now.

I sent my husband to Walgreens to pick up a prescription. I dread filling my gas tank. I didn’t know that. That’s pretty cool to know. What would be the best advice you would give to anybody starting out or interested in the drone side? What are some of the top things you would recommend?

There are so many. One thing I would suggest is don’t get too caught up. I’d be very leery and cautious about getting on a lot of the drone forums because there’s a lot of negativity there. There are a lot of what I call the keyboard cowboys. These are the guys that they know a lot intellectually, but they don’t have any real experience in the real-world doing stuff. They’re telling everybody what you can and can’t do, but they’re not out there doing it.

One of the biggest challenges, which is the biggest opportunity in a drone space now, is that nothing’s been standardized in the drone space like pricing, deliverables, and all that stuff. That creates massive opportunity, but it also makes things a little more difficult if you don’t have the right guidance and don’t know what to do and where to go, especially far as pricing goes.

FWM 4 Damon | Flying Drones
Drone FAA 107 License Study Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Pass Your 107 Test the First

What I see people doing is a race to the bottom as far as pricing. People think, “I can’t charge $2,500 for ten minutes of my time,” but you can if you’re saving a company that was normally spending $5,000 for the same thing and you’re doing it for half the price and giving them better service. It becomes about the value. I would caution that on the pricing.

I’d recommend that you get around. Don’t do the lone ranger thing. I call it the lone ranger syndrome where you go out there. A lot of entrepreneurs do this, where you try and do everything yourself. It’s important to focus on things. I call them RGAs, which are Revenue Generating Activities. Focus on things that are going to generate revenue and then farm out the rest of the stuff.

The great thing about it is you can have your clients pay for all the other stuff, the bookkeepers and anything you’re going to do with collections, marketing and sales, photo editing, video editing and all that stuff. I see a lot of people spend way too much time on the wrong things. We’ll go through a lot of that in the training. I don’t have enough time to go into all of it, but those would probably a couple of my biggest things.

The other thing is don’t overspend on equipment. I see a lot of people spend thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars on equipment that they might or might not need at some point in the future. I get that, but in the drone space, get what’s good enough now because the technology changes so much and get that then start generating money. We teach people how to have their clients pay for their equipment, so they’re buying their drones and stuff. That would be something else.

I’m doing this in reverse order, like 3, 2, 1. The most important is getting out there and doing it, taking massive action and educating yourself. I think I’m a big believer in investing in yourself, in your education, that will pay dividends and you can turn literally years into weeks. You can shorten your curve dramatically.

We have people that graduates that come through that have MBAs and business degrees. They’re like, “I expected that it was going to take me 1, 2, 3 years before I got into black,” meaning before I started making money and being profitable with my business. They’re blown away when they’re profitable in 1 or 2 months. This goes against everything I’ve learned. I don’t know how it’s possible, but if you do it right, it can be done.

Don’t forget to check out the webinar at FullerWalletMedia.com/drone. Check it out now. We want to thank you, Damon, again for being on the show. It’s been such an honor to have you. I’ve heard about you. I’ve read incredible things about you prior to our interview. You have more experience than anyone I’ve ever met in my life on drones.

He’s the drone boss.

Thank you so much. It’s such a pleasure being here. It’s great to meet you and spend time with you.

 

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