LAS VEGAS, Nevada, September 9, 2015 – The largest commercial drone show in North America, InterDrone, opened yesterday with the launch of 500below, LLC, the first peer-to-peer network of drone owners supporting drone owners. The company’s name is a reference to the FAA’s altitude ceiling of 500 feet and below for commercial drone flights.
“Demand for drones is huge, but consumer support is awful, and new drone aviators are extremely frustrated,” said company Founder and CEO Bill Kimberlin today from the InterDrone conference in Las Vegas, where 500below can be found at booth/table #11 in The Hanger exhibit area. “After paying an average of $1200 or more for a product up front and waiting weeks or months for it to arrive, aviators find that they can’t get anyone at the manufacturer on the phone to answer questions or help them troubleshoot problems. Reaching a live person who understands your aircraft, remote and mobile phone display combination is virtually impossible.”
500below (500below.com) will fill this customer service gap with a platform that matches its members to more advanced aviators who use the same combination of aircraft, remote and display unit. When a customer logs in to 500below’s website or coming mobile app, he enters information about the drone he owns and the supporting devices used to fly it, then may select from a menu of assistance categories, such as firmware upgrade, calibration issues, connection problems or flight rules.
“The launch of 500below is good news for drone manufacturers as well as consumers – because we will offer manufacturers access to our network of aviators using their products. This will allow manufacturers to continue their focus on innovation and production while 500below focuses 100 percent on consumer support,” Kimberlin added.
Think of Drone Aviators Like Uber Drivers
Based on an Uber-like platform, 500below will join a growing number of shared economy startups. As this new ecosystem of aviators comes together and a mobile app is introduced in the coming months, 500below believes that device-to-device support in a peer-to-peer community will prove to be the most effective way to support highly technical devices like drones.
Quality Monitored By Pilot and Consumer Rating System
The quality of the consumer experience is measured by a rating system of one to five stars. Any network aviator who receives a low star rating will be locked out of the support network pending resolution of customer issues and advanced training. And, as in Uber, support aviators will also rate customers who call for support and may decide not to take calls from customers with low ratings.
“This kind of assistance is already being provided for free through blogs. Aviators obviously enjoy sharing their knowledge and helping other pilots. We are simply providing a platform that allows aviators to receive a fee for their advice, and also makes it easier for drone owners to quickly find an expert who uses the same aircraft and mobile device,” Kimberlin said.
“500below allows me to put to use my team’s extensive experience in helping people find the information and assistance they need to solve problems – experience we acquired through 14 years in the direct response marketing industry. Our study of the drone market over this past year has convinced us that that the consumer assistance lessons we learned translate extremely well,” he added.
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