NETWORKING is the single most powerful marketing tactic to accelerate and sustain success for any individual or organization! – Adam Small (Strategic Business Network, 2011)

Today’s job markets are more competitive than ever with the advent of digital technology and the widespread variety of free open source materials to learn new skills. For that reason, it’s critical for all professionals to have a strong NETWORK.

In order to stay competitive in the job markets (present and future), I decided to be proactive and outline a brief strategy to build my personal and professional network communities. Here’s a brief glimpse at my plan to help me find people, connect with them and maintain their relationship.

Below is 10 of my personal/professional network communities I will continue building to ensure I maintain a solid network.

Twitter

– Estimated members in my network = 73 followers + their followers

Facebook

– Estimated members in my network = 400 friends + their friends

Rally Point (military only)

– Estimated members in my network = 400 friends + their friends

LinkedIn

– Estimated members in my network = 180 connections + 46,735 group connections

Email

– Estimated members in my network = 50 people

Catalog of business cards

– Estimated members in my network = 20 people

Full Sail University

– Estimated members in my network = 30 friends

MeetUp Group Activities

– Estimated members in my network = 200(+) people

Local Networking Events (festivals, concerts, coffee shops, etc.)

– Estimated members in my network = 100’s of people

Restaurants

– Estimated members in my network = Endless amounts of people

Total # of potential members in my network communities = 47,788(+) people

Strategy to continue building my Network…

  • Participate in conversations on Social Media to attract more friends/followers/connections by offering helpful feedback
  • Participate in live classroom discussions at school to build my credibility as a professional media strategist with interests in building my knowledge in particular areas of the profession
  • Volunteer at any chance to experience new opportunities and meet new people that have knowledge in other areas of interests
  • Write and share engaging content on my BLOG and social media profiles to attract new friends/followers/connections
  • Publish multi-media content on my LinkedIn profile to offer viewers a variety of informative material relevant to my professional interests in Media and the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance communities
  • Update and create professional business cards to hand-out to people that I see a strategic connection with in the local community
  • Telephone and send personally addressed emails to people I consider: mentors, coaches, industry insiders, connectors, idealists, realists, visionaries, partners, and even wanna-be’s that I have the opportunity to take under my wing and help
  • Speak to everyone to identify potential connections with people that share common interests with me or people that may be a good quality network contact for future opportunities
  • Socialize with others online and in person about my ideas and offer helpful solutions to community problems
  • Express my personal brand through the content I share and across all digital platforms to ensure people perceive me as a personable professional

Overall, I have a fairly strong network but I need to start contributing to community discussions to further strengthen my social capital. I’ll start by cleaning up my social media accounts and creating content that’s relevant to the people that can support my personal/professional endeavors most. With this in mind, I would rate my network of communities on a scale from 1-10 at 6. From here, I would like my network to grow to at least an 8 in the next four to six months focusing on quality instead of quantity.

Wish me luck!

Featured Image: http://pixabay.com/en/network-businessmen-circuit-577009/ 

Whether you know me as a friend, family member or even a colleague, it’s pretty clear that my personal demeanor resembles that of my professional persona. In this case, I conduct an Online Presence Inventory of my three most frequently used social network accounts to ensure the content on them portrays the individual I want people to perceive me as, especially in the professional light.

Here are the social media profiles I use the most…

Corey Seamster.com

This is my personal website that not only showcases my personal brand but also my professional enthusiasm. Like my other accounts, my website allows me to share content on both a professional and personal scale for other like minded individuals that may have an interest in my work for the use of personal growth or professional inspiration.

LinkedIn

Compared to my other social media accounts, LinkedIn reflects my professional side the most. However, you can still get a good feel for whom I am and the things I enjoy in my personal life by reviewing my content. For instance, my personal brand is very similar to the way I present myself as a professional from the cloths I wear to the organized and detail-oriented way I speak and write. Although LinkedIn only offers content specific to my professional experiences, I try to embed my personal character into my writing and the variety of multi-media forms that tell my story.

Twitter

Twitter is a good example of my personal brand and professional side as well. From the profile picture I use and the background header that tells you exactly who I am, to the short summary and content I post about Media, Twitter works for me. In the past, I only used Twitter for big events I participated in as a Media Strategist but I intend to start engaging in more conversation with influential people to further build my online presence. If a potential employer stumbled on any of my social media profiles, particularly the three I’ve listed above, I would encourage them to reach out and engage in conversation with me. The content on all of my social platforms will showcase my personal interests and my professional ambitions.

My account is open to the public so find me @ Corey Seamster and let’s collaborate!

The Drone Lab: Business Plan Infographic

Here’s a visual depiction of my 30 page business plan in the form of an Infographic to illustrate research I conducted for my startup The Drone Lab.

Art & The Industry – An interview with Artist LNL

Here’s an interview I did on March 24, 2015 with Lindsay Lynch (a.k.a. Artist LNL) on the topic Art & The Industry.

The interviewee, Lindsay Lynch, is a successful entrepreneur with two different businesses that loves to create art as a hobby. Lindsay lives and operates her two businesses in the Orlando, FL area, which are the Inner Core Systems, LLC where she hand-makes cremation containment systems out of all sorts of different materials and she also owns a cleaning company called Interior Cleaning Services, LLC. Lindsay considers herself a folk artist that draws inspiration from anything and everything.

Enjoy!

Full Sail Hall of Fame: My social media experience (assessment metrics)

Here’s a video blog I created with content gathered from the Full Sail University “Hall of Fame” week.  In this video, you’ll notice I focused on the ways I used social media (e.g. Twitter) to share my experience with other online.  Enjoy!

The Drone Lab, Business Plan Marketing Decisions

After brainstorming a few ideas to market my business, I decided to start with three particular paths: 1) Direct Mail, 2) Social/Viral Marketing, and 3) Online Marketing.  The paths I’ve identified will be further elaborated in my final working business plan.  From there, I’ll drill down into more details regarding specific opportunities to reach my customer segments with all value propositions associated to my business model.

Here’s a few of those Marketing Decisions I’ve made to start my journey…

Analysis: Business Plan Financing

Initial funding for my veteran-owned and veteran-operated sole proprietor business concept, “The Drone Lab,” will require both startup capital and working capital to begin operations.  After conducting preliminary research on the commercial drone industry and the proposed amount of costs projected for small businesses to get started per current Federal and State provisions, I’ve outlined an itemized costs breakdown (i.e. facilities, equipment, materials/supplies, fees and professional services) to help clarify the total amount of financial resources that will be needed to start my business endeavor.  Additionally, I also provided three potential financing solutions that I’ll further look into to get funding to start The Drone Lab’s customer service support.

Here’s the Prezi presentation I created for your review and feedback:

The Drone Lab

Let’s Explore the industry landscape…Graphic Designer & Artist Coach

Hey ya’ll!  Here’s another video blog that I created in exploration to continue to identify new best practices and lessons learned from Entrepreneurs in all industries.  In this video blog, I highlight some of the things that inspired me and some of the things that I could take away as lessons learned.

Got to get started somewhere…Business Plan – Part II

To further define my business endeavor to create my first startup in the Commercial/Civil drone industry, I had to conduct a deep dive industry analysis to identify trends, the target market, and everything there is to know about the competition.  For an extensive look into my research, here’s what I found and perhaps you can also learn a thing or two about developing a business plan from my outline.


Industry Overview

The fast growing commercial/civil drone industry has more opportunity now, then ever before. Although federal and state regulations to integrate drones into the National Airspace System (NAS) have not been finalized, it’s noticed across the industry that small startups from around the nation are popping up from every direction. Business models that offer drone services and/or products will continue to evolve in support of many applications. According to PRNewswire (2015), “The demand for commercial drones is likely to witness a significant growth, thereby garnering the interest of the industry players across various verticals. The Americas are projected to be the fastest growing market as FAA relaxes its ban on commercial use of drone in some applications” (para. 2).

Market Opportunity

The global commercial drone market is expected to take shape around applications in a handful of industries: agriculture, energy, utilities, mining, construction, real estate, news media, and film production. Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI, 2013) reports in their publication, The Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the United States, that the precision agriculture and public safety are the most promising commercial and civil markets at the moment. These two markets are thought to comprise approximately 90% of the known potential markets.

Additional market applications for consideration (Market Intel Group, 2010):

  • Wildfire mapping
  • Agricultural monitoring
  • Disaster management
  • Thermal infrared power line surveys
  • Law enforcement
  • Telecommunication
  • Weather monitoring
  • Aerial imaging/mapping
  • Television news coverage, sporting events, moviemaking
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Oil and gas exploration
  • Real-Estate
  • Freight transport

The AUVSI also concludes the following facts about the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) market:

  1. The economic impact of the integration of UAS into the NAS will total more than $13.6 billion in the first three years of integration and will grow sustainably for the foreseeable future, cumulating to more than $82.1 billion between 2015 and 2025 (Table 1);
  2. Integration into the NAS will create more than 34,000 manufacturing jobs and more than 70,000 new jobs in the first three years;
  3. By 2025, total job creation is estimated at 103,776;
  4. The manufacturing jobs created will be high paying ($40,000) and require technical baccalaureate degrees;
  5. Tax revenue to the states will total more than $482 million in the first 11 years following integration (2015-2025); and
  6. Every year that integration is delayed, the United States loses more than $10 billion in potential economic impact.       This translates to a loss of $27.6 million per day that UAS are not integrated into the NAS.

Barriers to Entry

Currently, the main inhibitor of U.S. commercial and civil development of the UAS is the lack of a regulatory structure. Because of current airspace restrictions, non-defense use of UAS has been extremely limited. Until the FAA consolidates feedback from the public on the new rulemaking policy guidelines (60days: Feb 15 – Apr 15, 2015) and define the federal law to integrate small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) into the NAS, commercial/civil companies will be required to apply for an exemption approval to conduct commercial drone operations for compensation.

In effort to easily breakdown the barriers to entry within this market, I’ll categorize the barriers in two categorizes: Strategic and Tactical.

  • Strategic barriers
    • Lack of Department of Transportation – FAA guidelines to operate sUAS in NAS
    • Large scale key players in the industry: Airware Inc (U.S., Drone Deploy (U.S.), DJI (Shenzhen), Precision Hawk Inc (U.S.), SenseFly ltd (U.S.), 3D robotics (U.S.), VDOS Global (U.S.), Trimble UAS (Belgium), AeroVironment (U.S.), and others
    • Lack of State requirements to own and operate (e.g. certifications, licensing, registration, insurance, etc.)
  • Tactical barriers
    • Local competitors (i.e. small startups)
    • Financial stability
    • Lack of resources to operate (software/hardware)
    • Security and Safety concerns
    • Lack of trained operators

Long-Term Opportunities

According to AUVSI (2013), the economic benefits to the country are enormous and were estimated as follows.

  • First, they forecast the number of sales in the three market categories.
  • Next, they forecast the supplies needed to manufacture these products.
  • Lastly, using estimated costs for labor, they forecast the number of direct jobs created. Using these factors, they forecast the tax revenue to the states.

Furthermore, AUVSI conducted research studies on four particular areas in order to determine the estimations for this emerging industry. They are as follows:

  • Comparable sales from other countries
  • Survey results
  • Land ratios
  • A literature search on rates of adoption of new technology.

Most important, AUVSI predicts the economic impact of the integration of UAS into the NAS will total more than $13.6 billion in the first three years of integration and will grow sustainably for the foreseeable future, cumulating to more than $82.1 billion between 2015 and 2025 (Table 1). As a result, there will be plenty of opportunity for small startups to meet industry-manufacturing demands, consultation services to aid in training, employment strategy development, and technology innovation.

Below, I’ve provided a table (i.e. Table 1) created by the AUVSI that depicts the total economic impact of UAS integration in the U.S. The majority of these jobs will come from the manufacturing process associated with products created for drone/sUAS.

Table 1.

Market Description, Size and Trends

After years of growth and innovation in the military sector, the global demands for UAS’s are on the rise in support of a wide-variety of commercial and civil markets. Global trends show that efforts made toward further development and technological innovation will only make the UAS markets more productive and competitive.

According to AUVSI (2013), these emerging markets are slated to created more than 100, 000 jobs between 2015-2025 throughout the United States with an estimate market value of $82.1 billion. It’s predicted that this rapidly growing market will initially spawn from the Precision Agriculture and Public Safety application sectors, creating the most business revenue and jobs with quality benefits. In particular, precision agriculture refers to two segments of the farm market: remote sensing and precision application.

Additionally, the commercial drones market can be broken down by: type, technology, application, and geography (ReportLinker, 2015).

  • Type
    • Fixed Wing
      • Light Fixed Wing
      • Heavy Fixed Wing
    • Rotary Blade
      • Multi-Rotor VTOL
      • Single-Rotor VTOL
    • Nano
    • Hybrid
  • Technology
    • Energy and Propulsion Systems
    • Automation
    • Collision Avoidance
    • Cyber-Security and Jamming
    • On-Board Data Processing
    • Communication Data Links and Radio Frequency Spectrum Capacity
  • Application
    • Law Enforcement
      • Police
      • Civil Security
    • Energy Sector
      • Oil and Gas
      • Electrical Grids/Distribution Networks
    • Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries
      • Field Inspection
      • Crop Dusting
    • Manufacturing Sector
    • Infrastructure
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Retail
    • Scientific Research and Environmental Missions
  • Geography (e.g. worldwide locations)

Target Customers (TBD)

Due to my extensive research findings, I’ve reconsidered the market focus my business was initially going to service in the Real-Estate sector. As a result, I will continue to modify Part I of my business plan to reflect the area I decide to move in based on current predictive analysis outlined on the marketplace opportunities (precision agriculture and public safety).

Market Readiness

The market is slowly developing yet highly profitable and open to anyone enthusiastic about the economic benefits associated with sUAS applications. According to a Military Embedded Systems report (2014), “Most analysts expect the commercial market for unmanned aircraft to eventually dwarf that of the military market. Unmanned aircraft systems have changed the face of modern warfare and created a huge opportunity for electronics suppliers that provide systems for the UAS payloads, ground control stations, and flight controls.” However, other industry analysts consider the playing field will be just as open to the smaller companies as it is to the larger companies that have been in the industry from the start (i.e. Lockheed Martin, etc.) As an example, Drone Analyst (2015) states, “there is little evidence that those same suppliers that benefited from military drones will benefit from the eventual commercial applications of this technology.  It is not – as the Military Embedded Systems article suggests – an R&D problem.  I believe the vast differences in the ways these firms go to market is the problem that will, in fact, “throw a wrench in that transition.”

Strategic Opportunities

Strategic opportunities in the commercial and civil sUAS markets are plentiful. Considering the aforementioned commercial drone market break down by: type, technology, application, and geography, my business seeks to benefit from establishing relationships with industry leaders with hopes to identify future market needs to service both consumers in the business to business realm, as well as direct service support to independent civil consumers.

Strategic alliances can essentially be competitors and future growth enablers. For instance, partnering with the current industry leaders in manufacturing services and equipment suppliers of the existing UAS market can be bring potential short-term capital investors and key advisors my way.

In regards to The Drone Lab and the services we intend to provide, we currently do not have strategic opportunities over any of our competitors. However, I (the business owner/operator) do have over nine years experience working with the Department of Defense (DoD) UAS architectural systems (i.e. sensor to shooter) and methodologies (i.e. Tasking, Collection, Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination) associated with and used across all federal government agencies and allied NATO militaries.

Competitors (National and Local)

There’s no doubt that commercial and civil drone market competitors are starting to become known in the local, regional, national, and international market sectors. Generally speaking, according to INEA Consulting LTD: Global Commercial and Civil UAV Market Guide 2014 – 2015, this competitive landscape consists of some big name Manufacturers and Equipment Suppliers (National market):

  • 3D Robotics – develops innovative, flexible and reliable personal drones and UAV technology for everyday exploration and business applications. DR’s UAV platforms capture aerial imagery for consumer enjoyment and data analysis, enabling mapping, surveying, 3D modeling and more.       There technology is used across multiple industries around the world, including agriculture, photography, construction, search and rescue and ecological study.
  • senseFly Ltdis a Swiss company that develops, assembles and markets autonomous mini-drones and related software solutions for civil applications such as: mapping of mine sites, quarries, forests, constructions sites, crops, etc. Since the summer of 2012, senseFly has been a member of the Parrot group.
  • Aibotix – In 2014, Aibotix became a part of Hexagon, leading global provider of integrated design, measurement and visualization technologies.
  • DJI – is the global leader in developing and manufacturing high performance, reliable, and easy to use sUAS, for commercial and recreational use. The company has over 500 employees and is among the largest in the commercial UAS market. It’s primary services offer aerial photography and videography accessible to professional photographers, cinematographers and hobbyists anywhere in the world. Global company operations span to North America, Europe, and Asia.
  • Walkeraprimarily relies on its strong research and development ability, and manufacturing capacity. Guangzhou Walkera Technology CO., LTD. has become a professional commercial UAS manufacturer that unifies product research & development, production, marketing, and services.

Likewise, many companies create proprietary software (i.e. remote controllers, interfaces, sensor packages, etc.) for their own devices but most are not interoperable with other drone platforms/technologies. With this in mind, here are a few of the major Software Developers for commercial and civil use (National market):

Proprietary Software:

  • DroneDeploy – is a company focused on developing software that adapts drones for business and industrial purposes. Their software enables cloud control for drones by connecting them to LTE and 3G networks. The main sectors it focuses on are construction, agriculture, and surveying.
  • Airware – is a company that uses both software and hardware to control the main functions of drone flight operations, by providing connectivity to a third party sensor and/or external devices.

Open Software:

  • Flyver – is a company that provides open interface options to drones aimed at developers. The software enables consumers to write designated apps for drones.
  • Parrot – is a company that provides a documented interface to certain parts of their software allowing users to develop their own apps for Parrot’s flagship drone product.
  • ArduPilot/APM – is a project by 3D Robotics that offers consumers an autopilot system, which supports multi-copters, traditional helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and rovers.
  • OpenDroneControl – is an open source software platform for developing interactive artworks and research projects with aerial robotics. The company was developed to be a community-supported framework for connecting commercially available quadcopter platforms to a common programming interface. The framework provides access to specific sensors and optionally allows for additional functionality such as navigation and tracking.

Locally, the first potential competitor in the rapidly expanding small Unmanned aerial system industry (sUAS) operating out of Central Florida is called:

  • CineDrones is a manufacturer of high-end drone systems and offers its customers a variety of drone systems, drone accessories/parts, a trained professional staff for support and even training classes. CineDrones has taken the knowledge and every changing technology to new heights by testing and developing aerial systems for use in Film, TV, Public Safety and Agriculture. CineDrones reputation in the market is well-known with a proven business model doing work for companies like ABC, Amazon.com, MTV, Universal Studios and even Full Sail University to name a few.

The Second competitor company is called Frazier Foto.

  • FrazierFotois a customer photography firm specializing in high quality commercial and portrait photography. The company started it’s operations in 2007; and in 2013, they added elevated imaging to their services with the addition of a small drone system to capture imagery for companies with a focus on architecture and other commercial entities.

 Finally, the third Central Florida competitor is called: Hoverfly.

  • Hoverflyis a company that develops aerial robots for commercial, industrial, and personal use, and they also have patent-pending drone technology used to control drone systems. Similar to CineDrones, Hoverfly caters its services to the providing drone solutions to the Agriculture, film & media, and public safety industries.

In comparison, all three potential market competitors seem to focus on the same target audiences that use drone systems in the Entertainment, Public Safety, and Agricultural industries. Likewise, they all present themselves as industry professionals with small startup teams ranging from 3-8 people that conduct business both online and from local office locations in Central Florida. And other than a few minor differences in the services/products each company offered, the only things that distinguished one from the other was how they represented themselves through the display of content on their websites. In that case, CineDrones looked to be my biggest competitor.

Advantages

In comparison to each of the local competitors and the product/services they offer consumers, I don’t have any advantage over them. I’ll need to conduct further research on ways to stand out in this crowd of specialized competitors.

Barriers to Entry

Currently, my business concept will struggle with identifying adequate resources to aid in the early development of my business. The following list is prioritized with the tactical challenges that I may face while competing with other local market competitors:

  1. Startup capital to purchase resources
    1. Software/Hardware
  2. Lack of trained drone operators
  3. Lack of commercial drone knowledge
  4. Lack of professional website w/storage capacity for data
  5. Lack of strategic alliances compared to competitors

Strategic Opportunities

TBD

Business Plan – SWOT Analysis

In effort to continue my journey to develop my business plan for my first startup The Drone Lab, I had to outline the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT Analysis).  The SWOT analysis will be a useful point of reference to assist with my planning efforts and overall management expectations.  Additionally, the SWOT analysis will help me identify potential market opportunities, strategic partners and areas to avoid based on industry feedback that serves as evaluation measures.

Commercial Drone Market – Industry Overview

Here is a brief Industry Overview of the current commercial drone market based on my preliminary research efforts.

Orlando based Commercial Drones – Market Competitor Research

This is a reflective video blog that I created for my entrepreneurial efforts to identify potential market competitors in the location I intend to operate. The video will highlight three particular drone companies that operate out of the central Florida area with all intentions to expand as small startups in the rapidly evolving small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) industry.

In this video, you’ll be able to see what market research areas I focused on for all the potential competitors and some key takeaways that I was able to use for my own business endeavors.  Enjoy!