Interview with Gino De Wachter and Nancy Nieuborg of teambuilding specialists Dronefun.be
Management has announced yet another ‘dreary’ teambuilding: “Put on your happy faces and let’s have some fun!”. Most people’s teeth grind at the thought of having to do the same group dynamic games over and over again, just to be able to get to know your colleagues better and be better co-workers afterwards. The results achieved are often limited to none. There are exceptions, however, and in this article, we’ll discuss one of them.
Maybe we even have the golden tip for your next teambuilding: why not give drones a try?
We meet up with Gino De Wachter and Nancy Nieuborg who started their own drone company called Dronefun.be. “We try to target everyone who wants to get to know drones in an easy and fun way”, Gino says. “It can be a fun event with friends, or a team that wants to do something out of the ordinary. Even individuals can come and participate in one of our open events. We want to introduce drones to as many people as possible. And I have to say: drones are very popular today!”
“People want to know what to do when their drone breaks down, where they are allowed to fly. We try to be both fun and informative.”
“We also organize workshops about drone repairs, or small info sessions about legislation where people can put forward all their drone related questions”, says Nancy. “People want to know what to do when their drone breaks down, where they are allowed to fly. We try to be fun and informative. We are not just about flying with a drone, but we make time for the technology surrounding it as well: First Person View, Virtual Reality goggles, we are on top of that. And if our customers want us to help them purchase the right drone for their needs, we can also do that. It’s just like the magic wands of Harry Potter: there is a drone out there for everyone.”
The fact that Dronefun.be is keen on technology may not come as a surprise to those who know Nancy and Gino. Nancy is a civil engineer with a PhD in optics. She used to work for tech companies like Philips and imec where she led several research teams. That’s how she experienced teambuildings more and more, and she quickly knew it should be different. Gino has built a career in IT and telecommunications. He worked as a team leader for companies such as AT&T, British Telecom and for the European Commission. Working in a multilingual and multicultural environment has taught him a lot about how a team functions in different circumstances.
“Our technology background and the fact that we were often faced with teambuildings in the past were a perfect feeding ground for Dronefun”, Gino says. “When the opportunity of drones presented itself, we were not able to resist the call of entrepreneurship much longer.”
“We were not able to resist the call of entrepreneurship much longer.”
“We were looking for a new industry to get started in”, Nancy testifies. “Having had first row tickets to the DVD/CD-revolution and being part of the dawn of the internet, we knew drones would be the next big thing when they popped around the corner. We definitely wanted to be pioneers, and here we are.”
Because Belgium was very late implementing drone legislation, it was a no-brainer for Dronefun to focus on the recreational use of drones. “The fact that we did not wait for formal legislation to start our business, is what gave us an edge over the competition. Recreational flying is not as heavily regulated and indoors you can pretty much do whatever you want”, Gino says. “Nevertheless, I felt it was important to be compliant with the laws now in place and I have obtained my class 1 pilot license, even though I rarely need it. But it certainly opens doors when necessary.”
“It’s hard to be an entrepreneur”, they both agree. “You constantly have to innovate and never stop investing in new technology in our line of business. We started using 3D-printing for printing parts of our own drones and for printing accessories for our dynamic games. Earlier this year we launched a second recreational offering focusing on Virtual and Augmented Reality. And there’s more to come. You see, it’s more than just flying drones. It is about creating original experiences. We do not differentiate on price, but rather on content, and it works!”
“It’s hard to be an entrepreneur. You constantly have to innovate and never stop investing in new technology.”
“Going forward we will be considering many opportunities”, Gino says. “Furthermore, we are not limited to recreational use of drones. Commercial applications get more and more accepted by several industries and we are keeping an eye on that. When legislation is ready, so will we, to seize the opportunity.”
We are definitely going to hear a lot from these two pioneers. Keep an eye out for Gino and Nancy and don’t hesitate to contact them if you want to bring some Dronefun in your organization.