Mark Boyt, the founder of Drone Safe Register, has revealed how the success of Dragons’ Den has taken his company to the next level and justified his decision to give away significantly more equity than he originally wanted to.
Drone Safe Register (DSR) appeared on Dragons’ Den on Sunday night and successfully received backing from Peter Jones.
Jones had to overcome tough competition from fellow Dragons’ Jenny Campbell and Tej Lalvani to secure the £60,000 investment for a 40% share in the business, valuing the company at £150,000.
Boyt had only hoped to give away 20% of the business, but in an exclusive interview with Commercial Drone Professional, he revealed how he felt different once he knew Peter Jones was involved.
Mr Boyt said: “The decision to go above 20% was completely on the spot. I was probably happy to go up to maybe 25% or 30% but then I realised Peter Jones was involved and I soon realised it meant more than just money to me, it’s the value of what they can do. Going in there it was never about the money, it was about what they could do for Drone Safe Register on a whole.”
Since the programme aired on Sunday evening on BBC Two Hoyt said everything has completely taken off.
“It has gone all gone absolutely bonkers. A guy has just emailed me saying he saw me on Dragons’ Den and I’ve been booked for two weeks, that’s how quickly things are going, it’s amazing. Another guy has been online and received two instant quotes today, already. It is really good for our operators and our members.”
The publicity along with Peter’s input has been great. I was happy to give Peter such a large share so I could keep him interested in it and he is, he is so excited about it.”
Following the show, the DSR website received such a large volume of traffic, its website crashed.
Boyt said: “The only bad thing that has happened is the website crashing on the night because not many websites can cope with that sort of traffic all at once. But, even today, there has been a steady 50 or 60 people on the site since around 4am this morning so all of the work and additional work is now coming through the show, and that is why I did it. The publicity along with Peter’s input has been great. I was happy to give Peter such a large share so I could keep him interested in it and he is, he is so excited about it.”
The excitement shown from tech titan Peter Jones and his team is something that Boyt really values, especially with how quickly things are already moving.
Boyt was cautious about going into too much detail about the plans being put in place, he said: “I can’t tell you everything just yet but they have been involved massively already. We’re obviously about to start building a website. We’ve got a hire site at the moment and a stock footage website so we are going to try and combine the two. There is no talk of trying to put people’s membership up at all, our main focus is to bring more customers for our members and to rebuild the website to start with, and those are our two objectives. “
Asked about how much Jones’ had been involved, Hoyt said he had been impressed with the level of input: “Massively, when you sit in Peter Jones’ boardroom and he’s talking to you, you know things are going to get quite interesting. I’ve had about five meetings with him since May and I’ve got a meeting booked with him next week. To work with, he and his team have been excellent, they are so down to earth and so approachable.”
Boyt was also pleased with the passion Jones was showing towards the business and the drone industry in general.
On why he picked the tech titan over Campbell and Tej Lalvani, Boyt said: “Number one, its tech. I know he is interested in technology and obviously he owns Jessops as well, so I knew he would be excited and he is, so that is the main reason. Also though, just how easy he is to work with and how much help he will be. I know I can also use Peter for all of our marketing, but really I know he is Mr Tech and that’s why.”
Following the show being aired, DSR released a video of Jones who revealed why he chose to back the business.
Boyt said: “It wasn’t even a proper studio shoot, it was just a raw off the cuff video, and this is what he thinks, all in one take. He did it in one take. Someone said Peter can you do a quick piece to camera just to let us know what you think and he just said ‘wow’ basically. He is so excited about it all, he is buzzing. What we want to try and do is get Peter Jones as the new face of the drone industry.”
However, despite the smooth process as seen on TV, the process of investment takes a lot longer.
Boyt told Commercial Drone Professional just how it works: “I applied for Dragons’ Den in November 2017, got invited to London for a casting in February of this year, then Dragons’ Den was filmed May 24 and we finally did the deal last week because they want to make sure they are happy. When you go on the show that’s just not it, there is obviously a lot of due diligence that is involved so that was done and then obviously it was shown last night.”
He went on: “The whole experience I was just taken aback by, I was just so nervous. I was actually in the room for an hour and a half which they edited into a piece of around 15 or 16 minutes. Since the filming in May and with the final decision being made last week, Peter and his team were always very keen it just takes time as there are things we have to provide them with, they’re serious investors but what we get now is not just investment.”
Boyt hasn’t always been involved with the drone industry, and didn’t have the idea for the DSR until he was made redundant at the age of 36.
I became qualified then I noticed there was more illegal pilots earning more money than what I was and I thought, hold on a minute, this isn’t right.”
He founded the company in November 2015 and hasn’t looked back since.
Boyt said: “I got made redundant and had got fed up with what I was doing, so I basically retrained at 36 years of age, which was a real big step. I then got my commission for commercial operation, then I became qualified then I noticed there was more illegal pilots earning more money than what I was and I thought, hold on a minute, this isn’t right. No one was saying you must hire a legal drone pilot and I thought well there’s no directory so I thought let’s do it and that’s how the Drone Safe Register was born.”
He added: “The industry is so small so and all I ever wanted to do was build a really professional community up which is what we have done. We have now got a private Facebook network group too. Before that some people out there can be really counter-productive and tell you what you’re doing is a bad thing but now, with our private group members can talk, it’s a really nice and helpful community, people can and are sharing work every day, people are getting help instead of getting shot down. Some of those people who were saying negative things, I ended up kicking them out of Drone Safe because I haven’t worked two and a half years for nothing for some people just to ruin it. I’d much rather have less members and a really happy network than loads and loads of members and an unhappy network.
Drone Safe currently has 450 members, a number that continues to grow as word of the Dragons’ Den success gets round.
You can see the Drone Safe Dragons Den story in full here.