The thought that launched Naples Drone Solutions is one familiar to any entrepreneur: “There must be a better way to do this.”
In this case, the idea came on a hot day in Naples when Andrew Kobza was returning from an exhausting cross-country drive with his dad. Kobza’s father, a general contractor, needed to make a stop at a client’s house to check some measurements. When he saw his exhausted father climbing onto the roof in the blazing sun, Kobza realized he could provide a better solution.
Kobza grew up in the construction industry. As an adult, he went to work for his dad’s Naples company, The Aerial Cos. Inc., but Kobza’s heart was in technology. He’d been passionate about electronics and computers since childhood, and he was a serious remote control hobbyist. He knew a drone could easily take the photos and measurements his father needed.
The drone industry is rampant with illegal flying, but Kobza wouldn’t start his business until he could become a licensed operator. He was the first person in Naples to get a license on the day they were offered by the FAA, and he opened Naples Drone Solutions soon after, in September of 2016. Kobza’s conscientious approach is a signature characteristic of his business. He describes Naples Drone Solutions as “all about doing things the right way, including licenses, insurance and assurances of sound data.”
The company still shoots photos and video for real estate and construction clients, but creating custom drone solutions is what excites Kobza most. After meeting with a Miami radio station that wanted to measure its signal strength, he used a 3-D printer to create a rig for his drone so it could carry a handheld spectrometer to take the measurements. The real innovation, though, was in the way Kobza presented the data. Instead of a spreadsheet, he was able to create a color-coded 3-D model that anyone could read. Kobza is gearing up to offer radio antennae analytics to other clients.
In the past year, Naples Drone Solutions flew more than 500 missions, opened three branches, and gathered more than 330GB of photo and video. The company has collaborated with companies such as Newbury North and WayFM.
Kobza is also collaborating with a licensed surveyor to bring his conscientious approach to the business of drone surveying. “It’s easy [for a drone operator] to feed photographs into software that spits out a beautiful image,” says Kobza.
“But unless you’re a licensed surveyor, it’s difficult to know how accurate the results are. Our backgrounds in construction, tech and surveying will put our company in a unique position to really understand the data being provided, the tolerances, and how to troubleshoot when the data isn’t modeling properly.”
The new company, Florida Aerial Survey Technology, will be able to do a survey and have a model ready for the client in 24 hours.
Kobza credits his successful launch to the friendliness of the Naples business community. “I’ve had a number of ideas, and I can dial up an executive in Naples and they’ll say, ‘That’s interesting, let’s go for coffee and talk about it.’ When I needed to work with a surveyor, I could just call someone up and they’ll meet with me. Where else can you find that kind of support?”