Drona Aviation: High-Flying Business Success via Drone Technology

Drona Aviation
Drona Aviation Pvt. Ltd.

The super-advanced modern technologies enable business sectors to high-fly in their success with technological deep-rooted-ness and far-reaching applications. One of the technologies that are making such an impact across many industries is drone technology. Drones are making the world a better place with immersive applications in education, engineering, construction, entertainment, surveys, communication, research and development, and more.

Understanding the widespread need across industries, Drona Aviation Pvt Ltd has emerged as a reliable Drone product manufacturer and provider. Spearheaded by its eminent Co-founder and COODinesh Sain, Drona Aviation offers best-in-the-class drone solutions to various companies to meet their diverse requirements.

In the engaging interview with the Insights Success team, Dinesh discussed his professional journey with Drona Aviation, benefits, challenges faced and countered, and the impact of modern technologies. He elaborated on his advice to young professionals and his vision for the future.

Dinesh, please brief our audience about Drona Aviation Pvt Ltd, its USPs, and how you are currently positioned as one of the most prominent drone companies. 

Founded in 2014, Drona Aviation is a drone technology company that has built an accessible, engaging platform for anyone who wants to learn, explore, and tinker with drones and their capabilities.

The USP of Drona Aviation stems from the fact that we are the sole player in the Indian market that makes nano drones for educational purposes. Pluto drones are affordable and highly customizable based on the creativity of its user.

We aim to be the pioneers in fostering a democratized platform to unleash the true potential of drone technology, solving problems at the corporate as well as the societal level.

Tell us more about Drona Aviation’s offerings and what makes it stand out in the cutthroat competition.

The drone-making industry has immense potential, with various companies focusing on different use cases. We stand out in this market on two key aspects –

First is our focus on building a platform that would be a breeding ground for learning and experimentation. The technology is still at a nascent stage in India, with a limited knowledge base. Through this community-driven platform, we intend to expand this base and keep it open-source so that it benefits from shared learning.

With a modular design, we want to give our users the freedom to use Pluto for diverse applications. Enthusiasts use Pluto for applications we never imagined!

By making drones that are accessible, affordable, programmable, tinkerable, and modular, we have been able to make a distinct mark in the market, especially in the segment of smart, educational drones.

Tell us about the immersive benefits of Drona Aviation’s services to its clients.

At Drona Aviation, we are not just selling a drone – we sell a lifetime worth of an ever-evolving toolkit that keeps its users engaged in learning about the technology and how it can be used to apply in real-life scenarios.

Pluto allows customers to customize and program their drones to perform specific tasks. This immersive experience allows customers to experiment with different drone configurations, program their drones to perform specific functions, and learn about drone technology and programming.

We also offer a range of educational programs and workshops that raises awareness of the technology and offers to train for its usage. These help users get hands-on experience building, programming, and flying drones.

Please brief us about your journey in the drone industry and how they have made Drona Aviation excel in its niche.

Prasanna and I studied at IIT Bombay – India’s premier engineering institute. Although we were in the same departments studying different programs, our common passion for drones brought us together in the Aeromodelling Club. In 2014, we decided to turn our passion into a startup – which led to the foundation of Drona Aviation with Apurva Godbole.

Through the startup, we worked on interesting projects (like cinematography for the Kumbh Mela and firefighting), but none generated enough revenue to sustain the business. As we continued to search for a viable revenue segment, we ended up setting up a drone workshop.

The workshop helped us to generate decent revenues. It also came across as a major issue proving to be the focal point where the startup would pivot. The drones existing at that point were either bulky or too expensive for students to afford. We took this problem as a challenge and decided to design an affordable, user-friendly “nano” drone that would be given to every student participating in the workshop.

Realizing the potential of this concept which was new to the Indian market, we decided to make our product commercial. The platform built around the product still echoes the core purpose of why it was designed in the first place – to make a drone that will teach you about it.

As an experienced leader, share your opinion on how adopting modern technologies like AI and ML impacts the modern drone industry and how Drona Aviation adapts to the change.

AI and ML technologies have only furthered the progress of drones. Drones are now becoming more intelligent and efficient through their adoption. It also allows drones to perform tasks that were previously difficult or impossible. Such as inspecting infrastructure, delivering packages, and mapping large areas.

We have plans to adopt AI/ML significantly going ahead. Currently, we are still in the brainstorming phase. We are specifically exploring its commercial uses in the warehouse, home security, etc.

Considering the current industry scenario, what challenges do you face, and how do you drive Drona Aviation to overcome them?

When you mention challenges, regulation is the obvious term that pops up first. Since this technology is relatively new, the policy actions surrounding it are ever-evolving. We have been cognizant of the regulation changes ever since we started operations. One of the many advantages of having a nano drone is the relatively relaxed regulations for it in India. Our Pluto needs no license or permission to fly since it weighs below the stated weight of 250 grams. Apart from places of high security and airports, Pluto can be flown anytime, anywhere. That being said, the situation may evolve, especially considering the developments in both research and consumer end. And we are constantly on the lookout for it.

The next big challenge is also something that many tech product-based companies face in India – manufacturing and supply chain. Initially, there was a sizeable dependency on China for manufacturing parts. But over time, the manufacturing capacity in India has improved tremendously, with more than 80% of the parts being manufactured here today. It has led to reduced lead times and lesser supply chain disruptions. India must continue investing in advanced parts manufacturing to remain competitive and help the ecosystem grow.

What would you advise budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the drone industry niche?

It’s always exciting to see new entrepreneurs developing interesting use cases for drones, many of whom are trying to solve pressing issues the country faces. But there is also this broad tendency to find a solution and define the problem. In the constant urge to scale, entrepreneurs tend to lose out on the basics.

The second most important advice would be to find the right team, especially your co-founders. Although we (Prasanna, Apurva, and me) have many commonalities in terms of background and passion, we differ in our skill sets and views. Apurva is the only one with a corporate experience among the three. At the same time, Prasanna is the backbone of all our tech. I act as an effective mediator whenever we have any disagreements. And over time, we realized that this dynamic has helped us make informed decisions.

How do you envision scaling Drona Aviation’s operations and offerings in the future?

We want to continue building on our strength of modularity and community-building and take in new, developed markets. We are specifically targeting those markets where awareness is already established so that it helps us to focus our resources on the product. We are already tying up with different companies across the globe to provide labelled products, along with selling them under the brand Pluto. We would also be investing equally in training and servicing so that a user in the USA gets the same level of servicing and support as a user in India.

We will be venturing into the B2B space in the domestic market. Given the domain (education) the product caters to, we realize the potential it could have to onboard clients from the sector.

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