I spent an afternoon with Markos Charalambous, a very hard-working, creative and business-oriented 25-year-old. I originally decided to interview him as I was fascinated with his Drone Videography that I came across on YouTube, however during the interview, he revealed a lot of interesting facts about himself and his so-far professional path. Markos founded his business ‘National Drone Photography‘ three years ago, he now owns 6 drones and has been working as a successful ‘Drone Pilot’ ever since. His most popular YouTube video has over 42,400 viewers, which are continuing to increase day by day.
Q1: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 25 and I am currently living in Limassol, in Cyprus. I have a B.Sc. Computer Science which I obtained from Frederick University. I currently find myself dividing my time between my two passions and my full-time job at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Limassol. I am working towards completing my Commercial Pilot License at the Aviation Flight Centre in Larnaca, and I am also the Drone Pilot & Founder of ‘National Drone Photography‘. I have always had a fascination with heights and being able to see things from a high altitude and this reflects in what I do. Ultimately I have two goals. The first is to officially get my Private Pilot License (PPL) by completing the required flight time and passing all the examinations. The second is to grow my business by becoming more experienced and specialised in aerial photography and videography, increasing awareness and growing my clientele. As you can imagine I am a very busy person, ‘flying’ from one occupation to the other.
Q2: What was the inspiration behind your start-up ‘National Drone Photography’?
The inspiration came in 2015 from a good friend of mine, who was very much into aerial photography and who is also an Airforce Pilot in Cyprus. We had a lot in common and after several conversations, he convinced me to try using a drone. I must admit that when I first started, I never thought that drone photography or videography could turn into a profitable business, it was just something I really enjoyed. About a year later, I became more confident and decided that it was time to invest some time and money into it.
Q3: What services does ‘National Drone Photography’ offer?
It offers three main services: 1) Aerial Photography, 2) Aerial Videography and 3) Video Editing. Aerial Videography is very popular for Marketing and Advertising purposes and most the time it comes hand in hand with the Video Editing. For example, I have worked with the Marketing department of Fitzgerald Cyprus Real Estate, as they needed the aerial footage of the locations of some of their properties, as well as the video editing after. For the past two years, I have also produced some aerial videos at some Shows, which turned out to be very successful.
Q4: What shows did you participate in?
The shows that I have created Videos for so far, are the OPAP Limassol Marathon in 2017, the Limassol Boat Show and the Limassol Motor Show in both 2017 and 2018 and the Paphos Marathon in 2018. These are all Shows that happen every year, which is great news for me as hopefully, I will continue to participate in them every year.
Q5: What type of clients do you work with?
Well, I separate them into two categories: my direct clients and my partners. My direct clients consist of architects (who need visuals of a specific piece of land for 3D Modelling), Hotel Owners (who need aerial videos of their Hotel or Resort communal areas), Real Estate Agents (who need aerial Videos of the locations of properties they want to sell) and other clients who need aerial footage of an important event for example Weddings or Christenings. In 2017 I filmed 23 Weddings and in 2018 I filmed 19 Weddings. On some occasions, I also partner-up with other photographers and videographers, who may require extra assistance when working on a much bigger project or a very important Show or Event.
Q6: How do you maintain such a strong presence online?
I am glad you see it a ‘strong’ online presence. Most of the posts and sharing of photographs and videos isareone ‘on-the-go’, as I have very limited time. When I do get time, I enjoy spending time seeking for great opportunities. I’ll look into how I can increase my sales and I’ll search online for people that I could potentially partner-up with or collaborate on mutual projects. When I come up with new ideas or projects, I share them with my followers and seek for their thoughts and opinions. It is very important to communicate with them and find out what is popular.
I think in order to be able to post quality content online, you need to take the time to do your research ‘behind the scenes’ as well. I try to improve my skills consistently by learning what shots, transitions and effects work best in my videos and I also try to see what music is most effective. I also follow and interact with my ‘competitors’, not so much in a competitive way though. We try to exchange ideas and experiences on a daily basis, in order for all of us to improve.
Q7: What are some difficulties that you have faced as a young entrepreneur?
At the beginning, things were difficult as I needed to buy my first drone with my own expenses. As you know drones are not that cheap. Also, it took a lot of time for me to practice and become very experienced with using both of the drone functions. Not only did I have to figure out how to manage the drone itself, but I also had to learn all the camera settings very well and learn how to control them via my phone and tablet. The drone does have an automatic function, but it is a totally different experience to be able to work it manually. Another difficulty that I still face sometimes, is the pricing of my services. It’s hard to be able to provide competitive prices, without feeling like you are being underpaid for the services you offer, I believe it takes time and experience to master this. Of course, I have also experienced a little bit of competitiveness from others in the same business as me and I have learned the hard way that not everyone will be happy for your personal successes.
Q8: What is some ‘entrepreneurial’ advice that you would give to those considering starting up a business or those who are already in the process of doing so?
I have a few tips for them, the actual tips that I followed myself at the beginning of my journey. Firstly, begin your business with a personal dream in mind, because you need to have a strong desire to weather the storms that get in the way. It is always wiser to look for new trends or things that haven’t been done before, in order to be innovative and interesting to your target audience. If money itself is your dream, then I would suggest that rethink this, because money alone cannot feed your soul and the long-term success of your business. You need to understand that YOU (the holder of the vision and the dream) are your business’ best asset. Without you, there is no business. It will be your drive, determination, and passion that will turn the dream into a tangible business. Lastly, you need to remember that it is important to be flexible. Sometimes things will go wrong, so you need to be prepared to start over and try again.
Find out more about ‘National Drone Photography’:
YouTube: National Drone Photography