Dan Richards and Drone Charms

Dan’s big idea

The risk-free gift for the drone lover in your life – Dan’s company Drone Charms sells specialist silver-plated good luck charms for drone enthusiasts. You can buy them on eBay. And you’ll see them promoted across Twitter and Instagram via @DroneCharms. The charms include a drone drawing and excerpt from a prayer to the patron saint of aviation, St Joseph of Cupertino – who was believed to levitate or fly – reading: “May your craft be upheld and your flight be swift.”

Challenges

Dan joined the Military Tycoon programme with a plan for a quite different business. But this would not have been feasible given the timeline and the budget. Instead he was able to put the course to good use by coming up with a relevant but new plan, and delivering on this.

How did the Military Tycoon programme help?

  • In Dan’s own words it helped him apply a military approach to business planning.
  • It gave Dan a structure to support the creative process.
  • It helped him to get an idea off the ground on his own – having left the military which is, conversely, hierarchical and collaborative.
  • Being in a room with others was useful, given Dan wasn’t used to working by himself.

In his own words

I came to the programme witha business idea of hosting events, where people could come along and fly drones the way you might go to laser tag or bowling. This involves working through a lot of regulation, including Civil Aviation Authority approval, and quite a lot of set up costs.

But with a budget on the programme of £250 and six weeks to get a product off the ground, I had to re-think that plan. What could I set up with that budget, in that time? I settled on the idea of good luck charms related to drones – something drone enthusiasts would like either to buy or to receive as gifts.

I decided to base the charms on the patron saint of aviation St Joseph of Cupertino. I sourced a royalty-free line drawing of a drone and I put it together with an extract from a prayer to this saint Prayer to St. Joseph of Cupertino (air travelers).

Then I found a manufacturer to create my small, silver plated drone charms, and set up a shop on eBay to sell them.

It’s been fantastic to learn about the process of starting a business in this hands-on way, learning the structure for generating ideas, developing a business plan and managing a budget.

The experience was absolutely not a cul-de-sac for me – I’ve learned how to adapt ideas into bigger plans. A business plan turns into a set of military orders in many ways. And I can apply the discipline to any new business.

There is a down-side in that I haven’t actually sold any charms yet. But I’ve come away from the course with plenty of ideas about how to market them better, with Google ads, for example, so there’s still a lot for me to be getting on with.