Recognizing the transformation of drones from a hobby to a new business segment, Woodall carefully considered how he wanted to enter the space.
“I said, ‘what can I do that’s not drone quicksand and will have revenue insulated from rapid change?’” he said, identifying the quickly changing software and hardware associated with drones. “With data, I avoided the quicksand and have taken a little slice of the drone pie that continues to be needed.”
Woodall founded Drone Data in 2014 to help companies in the drone space with their raw data that is collected from the aircraft. It helps that Woodall has experience within the aviation industry since 2001.
He founded MLWAir LLC, the company that created the first class Boeing 767 charter jet. The company was a business idea Woodall had after he upgraded a Boeing 757 in 1999 for Mark Cuban, who had just acquired the Dallas Mavericks. Woodall still serves as the president of that company.
But, Woodall, a former software engineer for Texas Instruments, also has had a first-row ticket to the changing industry of technology. First, he saw the transformation of computing from analog to digital at TI, then the development and sale of the first personal computers when he worked as the co-founder and president of MicroSolutions, the company Woodall initially started with a fresh-out-of-college Cuban that would later sell to CompuServe. He also co-founded Broadcast.com, initially called Audionet, which was sold to Yahoo for $5.7 billion.
“Since I’ve lived through them all … in my opinion, the changes associated with drones are faster and will be more significant than any of them,” he said.
Drones are going to produce enough data to overrun the world’s data centers at some point. The storage is not so bad because of the shelf life of that data, but the horsepower to compute from raw data to finished data continues to escalate. Drone Data allows customers to rent horsepower to compute that raw data to finished data.
How is it funded?
So far the company has been bootstrapped by me from the proceeds of other successful exits.
How does it make money?
The company charges monthly rates for its processing services.
What is its traction?
We’ve had a small amount of revenue so far via 10-15 customers. These are all startup companies so far. But we’re trying to stay ahead of the game. Eventually, the need for this service is going to take off. The drone sector is on fire.