The world of drone photography is rising to new heights, and one guy is there to catch the pictures as they come back down to earth.
Eric Dupin is a drone enthusiast and entrepreneur in Paris, France. His main gig is as founding editor of Presse-Citron, something of a French TechCrunch or Venturebeat, but in his time away from running the tech site, he’s all about Dronestagram.
“I’ve always liked RC cars and planes and helicopters and played with them from my youngest age,” Dupin told the Daily Dot. “I eventually got a small helicopter with a camera, and I started to take aerial pictures.” From there, Dupin graduated to a Parrot AR drone, and then to a much more professional setup: a DJI Phantom equipped with a GoPro.
Started in July of 2013, after Dupin was part of a 500-person group photo taken by a drone, he started Dronestagram as a space for sharing pictures and videos made by drones. After just a short press release sent to a few American tech blogs, traffic to the site blew up, hitting 70,000 unique visitors on its third day in operation, according to Dupin. People were interested in what was going on here.
The first version of the site offered picture-sharing only, but it now features videos as well. As more and more people told the stories behind their pictures, an increasingly engaged community formed around the site. Within two months of kicking off, Dupin launched a marketplace for users to sell their aerial photographs.
Dronestagram raised €100,000 last year and currently employs Dupin and one full-time staffer. Looking forward, Dupin has measured but ambitious goals.
“We want to be a real social network, like the Instagram of drone pictures, even if we know it won’t be as huge,” Dupin said. “This is a niche project we believe in. Now we’re looking for bigger fundraising, €300,000 to €500,000. Or why not a million? We are very convinced there is huge potential for this site.”
France makes something of a natural base of operations for Dronestagram. Dupin said that the French drone community is quite large, stemming from a long French history with planes and aerial technology, but also the fact that people just love cool gadgets. It also helps that one of the leaders in the drone market, Parrot, is based in the same country.
Furthermore, France is one of few countries to have formally outlined regulations surrounding the use of private drones. While Dupin suggests these laws are “a big constraint and restrictive,” they certainly represent a forward-thinking attitude that’s so far missing in the United States, as the Federal Aviation Administration has yet to issue its new rules for using private drones over American soil.
Until then, Dupin and company will be doing whatever they deem necessary in order to run the world’s best drone-photography sharing community. They’ve got an engaged userbase, some monetization, and a whole lot of pretty pictures to look at.
Image via Eric Dupin/Dronestagram