Why FlyBi is Set Up For Failure

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 3.31.36 PM 1The FlyBi drone. At first I ignored this concept when I saw it about a month ago. I don’t understand who exactly FlyBi’s is trying to market to, which is a little off-putting. The company is using flashy words like “VR” and “Autonomous” to gain traction while sporting a very high promise of features mixed a very low project funding goal goal. I find it hard to believe they will deliver the on the features they are promising. I give my comprehensive review and explain why I think so. Lets take a look at the features FlyBi is promising.

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VR Glasses with Head Tracking  

This is the first feature that I believe people will be let down by. They are promising a smooth VR experience, but no where does it say anything about how they are transmitting video. In the consumer market, the customer will naturally assume that it will be an HD unobstructed stream. They do mention that the goggles have HD capable screens, but I’m almost certain that it’s on a 5.8 frequency which means the quality will be SD. Not only that, it will produce glitchy video as 5.8 analog is subject to interference. While this is normal and expected in the R/C world, the average consumer will not understand this and will be let down. Also, it will not be a truly smooth VR experience like people have experienced before. They will move the camera using servos based on how the goggles move. You can view a demo of the technology here. 

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Wearable Wrist Remote I could only imagine how this one went down in the meeting rooms. “Maybe we could make our drone a ‘wearable’ and it would appeal to a larger audience!” While I appreciate the desire to innovate and create something new and interesting, I don’t think this will work well in practice. The joystick is for forward, back, left and right control. There are two spinning circles that go around the joystick. The 1st level one will control altitude, with the second controlling yaw. The integrated screen will have to be analog 5.8 and exist without an antenna which will produce non desirable results. I also think this wrist strap won’t fit everyone, and will make it harder to control the drone to get the shots you want.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 6.04.41 PMHD 1080 Camera  The integrated camera on the FlyBi looks to be a fatshark 600TVL. While they could upgrade it in the future to a better sensor, using the fatshark module in the marketing is misleading. Also missing is the a true electronic motor gimbal. This ‘Gimbal’ pictured is a 2 axis servo controlled mechanism. No, this gimbal won’t take out the shaky movements from your quadcopter, and in fact might even exaggerate them. With technology like this already existing for years in Fatshark goggles, I don’t find this to be a new and innovative feature. View the existing Fatshark head tracking feature here.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 3.32.15 PMHelideck Remote Charging The next over promised feature we have the Helideck. The Helideck will supposedly act as a backpack, rolling case, and homing beacon for your FlyBi. In addition, while using the Helideck they say you will never have to change your batteries yourself. Simply let the FlyBi land in the Helideck and let it change the batteries for you!(supposedly) While this sounds very cool, it is yet another feature that will make the FlyBi more complex, heavy, and subject to failure. Lets face it; people who fly drones should know their machines inside and out and this also means knowing how to charge and maintain your batteries yourself.

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Very Small Funding Goal This is the most concerning part. FlyBi has launched on Kickstarter with a funding goal of only $35,000. How in the world do they think they’ll be able to fund R&D, production, and marketing with 35k? For reference, Photokite launched their Fotokite Phi by exceeding a their $300,000 goal. Zano got about 12,075 pre-orders, generated just over $3,000,000, and just delivered the 1st 200 units to their 1st backers. The DreamQuii Plexidrone raised $2,243,986, about 1,000 times their projected goal (and since have done a complete re-design). There are a lot of new technologies involved with the FlyBi, injection molds, electronics, and FPV screens that would require much more money than $35,000 to produce. Furthermore, when using a crowd funding platform like IndieGoGo, you retain the funds regardless if you reach your goal or not. To me, projects on kickstarter are more reputable. If your goal is so low, why not go onto a more reputable platform like Kickstarter?

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 9.31.49 AMThis is going not meant to say that crowd funding on one platform is better than another to start your drone company. There are many success stories like ZanoPlexidrone, Fotokite, Ghost Drone, Micro Drone, Hexo+, Airdog, CyPhy, Game Of Drones, C-MiSprite, and I’m sure we’ll see even more in the future! With so many success stories, it’s also good to remember that not every crowd funded drone project doesn’t go so well. Projects  like the Pocket Drone don’t have such a happy ending. The team was not expecting as many orders as they got, about 1,946 for a total investment of about $929,212. The owners were not prepared and had to invest their own life savings, and even go into debt to fulfill R&D and production of the product. After all pre orders were fulfilled AirDroids, the maker of the Pocket Drone, closed shop for good.

Crowd funding has become a great way for entrepreneurs to gain capital to create new and innovative products. We’ve seen some great drone products come out of crowd funding programs such as Zano. I personally backed the Zano project, and once I get mine I will probably buy a few more to explore their swarming feature and to give as gifts(assuming it works as they said). To me, it really seems like the ideal platform that I’ve always been dreaming about. I’m not expecting it to shoot the best video, have the furthest range, or fly in much wind at all. But to have a small flying camera that will take photos of you and your friends is something I’ve been looking for. As I live my life, I’m starting to see where Zano could be integrated. It happens quite often.

There seems to be a recipe for successful drone crowd funding campaigns. The first factor being an entertaining video that tells the story of where the inspiration for the product came from. The video shows people using the product, and sometimes what the product can produce. The second strategy is media support. It has become a custom to put all the media outlets and reports you were featured in on your Kickstarter page to show what brands believe in your vision. Third you need a detailed project timeline showing what has already been accomplished, future challenges, solutions for problems you are encountering at the current state of your project, and the willingness to over-communicate with your backers. Communication with your backers and creating a personal relationship with them is the most important. Zano used Reece to have a relatable person with a great personality talk with and let the backers know what is going on. I talked to Reece at CES, and had to compliment him on his video marketing strategy. At the moment, Zano is on email update #45 since January which equals about 5 updates per month. While they didn’t deliver on their initial shipping goal, they’ve kept backers updated about what’s going on and that makes them feel good about their investment.

Other companies like the Lilly.Camera took the same marketing ideas as the kickstarter campaigns utilizing a high quality video that shows features, use cases, and the lifestyle you can live with the product, in this case the Lilly. They went to media outlets before their release date and made content with them so on their release date the internet blew up about their product. Not only is this great for marketing, but great for sales too. All of Lily’s sales have been private, and that might attract more capital investors as opposed to a crowd funded project in which the figures are public.

Anytime there is a democratization of an industry, innovation happens at an exponential rate and that gives the big manufacturers pressure to innovate and create something more technology advanced. However, don’t take everything for its face value, and use your best judgement before putting your money into a crowd funded drone project. People have been let down before, and I would hate to see more people be let down again in the future.

SOURCE: Quadcopter Guy – Read entire story here.

by Trent Siggard