Connecting drone flyers with aerial content buyers

New innovators: Skytango

Steven Flynn and Susan Talbot of Skytango: “Our users will be anyone interested in aerial content.”

Steven Flynn and Susan Talbot of Skytango: “Our users will be anyone interested in aerial content.”

 

Award-winning film-makers, Susan Talbot and Steven Flynn, are the brains behind Skytango, a new aerial content service aimed at those producing broadcast or online video content.

Skytango was born out of necessity when the couple, who set up Aerial Filming Ireland in 2012 to capture images using remotely piloted aerial systems [better known as drone] camera platforms, came up against unlicensed operators on their patch.

Their aim was to build a library of aerial material that both broadcasters and corporate clients alike could access. However, having jumped through the hoops to get (and pay) for their drone licence, the couple discovered they were being undercut by unlicensed flyers.

“We began to have real struggles with how the market worked,” Talbot says. “Sometimes the client didn’t have enough money to do a shot legally with us, so we turned the work down. But we know that many of them still went ahead and did the shot with an unlicensed operator.

This constant presence of unlicensed operators was keeping prices low and making it very difficult for licensed companies like us to make our business work. This prompted us to look for ways in which we could help our clients get more for their budget while still using licensed providers.”

Skytango will be sold on a SaaS basis but the cost of the service has not yet been finalised. There is also a limit to how much the founders can say about how the product works as elements of the IP have yet to be nailed down. In a nutshell, however, it will connect drone flyers with aerial content buyers who can be confident that what they’ve bought has been legitimately and legally sourced.

Flynn says the biggest risk to both the flyer and the content buyer is the unlicensed drone operator.

“Our software doesn’t pretend to eliminate them, that would be impossible. Our approach is to create a space where all flyers can operate and the buyer has a transparent, clear, and reliable way of knowing what they’re buying. Licensed flyers will be able to command higher rates as most buyers don’t want to be breaking the law and we feel this profit incentive will help to encourage all flyers to be more responsible.”

The Skytango service is due to go live in the summer of 2016 and its market is global.

“Our customers will be people with ‘prosumer’ (a cross between professional and consumer) drones of all shapes and sizes that can carry anything from a GoPro camera right up to a top-end Arri Mini.

Our users will be anyone interested in aerial content from broadcast professionals such as the BBC to large production companies and ad agencies,” Talbot says.

The company is operating with a freelance team of six people and hopes to take on its first full-time employees in 2016. Talbot and Flynn are currently participating in the Launchpad accelerator programme for entrepreneurs run by the National Digital Research Centre and their start-up has also received financial support from Fingal Local Enterprise Office. They have managed to keep development costs at around €80,000 so far and the fact that Flynn was able to write the beta software helped. The company now has a high fidelity prototype ready for testing.

Flynn says what sets Skytango apart from its competitors is that “none of them can offer the feature sets we incorporate from field to the screen. Currently there are some stock library sites offering to sell material and there are some booking sites offering to help buyers find flyers, but they aren’t built by people who have tried to make a living flying drones. We combine both services and come to this market with 30 years experience between us.”

– OLIVE KEOGH

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