Drone giant DJI‘s origin story – their journey from a dormroom dream to the world’s biggest drone company – was featured last week in the South China Morning Post. DJI, the article reports, generated $2.7 billion in 2017.
The company is often called the Apple of the drone industry for several reasons: one of them being the sleek showrooms and centers that echo the design ethos of Apple salesrooms. In 4 years, there will be another reason. That’s when DJI’s new world headquarters in the drone manufacturing center of Shenzhen, China will be complete. The headquarters for DJI’s 14,000 employees – spread currently across 17 international offices – is being designed by British architectural firm Foster and Partners, the same firm that designed Apple Park in Cupertino, California.
The original article is worth a read, providing stories that the private CEO Frank Wang rarely releases. “In 2005, Wang built a helicopter flight-control system for his graduation thesis, but it failed the night before the class presentation, according to an account in the Chinese-language book DJI Drone,” says the article. “Wang’s efforts, however, eventually paid off and he built flight controllers out of his dorm room until 2006, when he moved to Shenzhen with two classmates to establish DJI, with encouragement from his university professor Li Zexiang.”
The article also touched on the ongoing US and China trade tensions, about which a DJI spokesman says: “The US is our key market and we will keep monitoring the situation.” DJI’s dominance in the consumer market and their evolving role in the industrial drone market – including partnerships with major U.S. companies – will protect the company if trade disputes continue to worsen. “Our partnerships with these top industry players are important … They will come out and say ‘DJI has products and solutions for us’,” Bill Chen, DJI’s enterprise partnership manager told the South China News.
“Meanwhile, the company will continue to “focus on improving its products, service and technology”, he said, adding that the company can achieve fast turnaround because it does everything in-house.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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