Starting a business in mapping advice?


I work for a surveying company and they often do topography work for water pipelines and roads (at least 2x a month) but they don’t use drones, instead we go out and take all of the measurements point by point with the GPS…

Most of the time the topography work is done in the open and vegetation is not an issue. I am kind of tired of walking 10 miles the whole day taking points when I know it can be done with a drone in a couple of hours or less. The company that I work for is hesitant to take up new technology and they don’t want to go through the learning curve.

I don’t think convincing them that buying a drone is going to do anything, because they already know it will but they have yet to proceed. I think I am just going to buy my own instead, use it on the job and show them myself what can be done but my only problem with this is that I am not running a charity and I will have to flop down around $3500 for a drone, a new PC and subscriptions/software. I would also have to purchase a RTK GNSS system if I want to work for other companies…

I am in school right now and $3500 or so is a lot of money, but I would like to expand and market my service out to other survey companies (which shouldn’t be that difficult).

What is the best way to go forward in something like this? I am thinking that I will just contract out my service, but I am not sure how much I would be able to charge per hour, considering in this case I work for the company and they do pay me. If I can market it to other survey companies then its not as big of a deal but for now I am trying to figure out the best way and the best price for something like this, how do I know what to charge?

After I start small I would like to build or buy a new drone and install a LIDAR sensor on it to do topography on a more professional level, but this is thinking way ahead.


Hi @Easton_Williams,

I, along with any other DroneDeploy employee, am not authorized to share any business or legal advice, though I hope other folks in this community can join the conversation and contribute something helpful.