Flight over Kherson: a mother of two children opened a unique travel business
10 November 2021
From a nanny to a business owner - an incredible story of Yulia Savchenko
Yulia Savchenko is a mother of two children. She used to work as a nanny. The young woman loves her native Kherson region and wants others to love this region and the whole of Ukraine, so she started her original business – real-time sightseeing flights with a quadcopter and DJI Goggles.
It all started with courses offered at a local Employment Center. It was a training of the International Labour Organization funded by the Danish Government. Based on training results, participants could win a grant for starting a business. Yulia Savchenko, not having a job at the time, explored this opportunity. Out of 90 people, only four won the grant, and Yulia was one of them.
– They explained, literally step by step, how to start a business, how to find customers, how to promote a product, how to calculate unit cost, how much to charge for services to make the business profitable. After the end of the project we studied SMM. I learned many things and tools that I never even knew existed. That is, they actually explained how to make a turnkey business, Yulia recalls.
Her husband suggested connecting the travel business with a quadcopter. And the woman set to work both during the training and in the free time.
The $ 3,000 grant was spent on equipment. The quadcopter cost UAH 58,000, goggles – UAH 20,000. Under the terms of the grant, everyone was to open a sole proprietorship. Therefore, even before buying the equipment, Yulia became an individual entrepreneur.
– Battery, goggles, quadcopter, sun tent, table. I bought all this with a grant. When choosing a quadcopter, quality was a priority. I studied everything carefully on the Internet. Because there are quadcopters for UAH 1 thousand, and there are for $20 thousand. It all depends on the flying range, maneuverability and image quality. I chose the best option – our quadcopter shoots high-quality footage, is maneuverable and holds well in the air. The choice of goggles is much smaller, so it was easy to decide, says Yulia.
The idea is that the quadcopter rises very high, up to half a kilometer.
– It shoots video from this height on a 4K camera (it is a very good camera) and transmits the image via Wi-Fi into the goggles that anyone can wear. One can fly in any direction, see a lot. It’s like Google maps, but in real time. To be honest, I have not come across such ideas before. Besides, if you turn your head, the quadcopter reacts and turns the same way, Yulia Savchenko explains.
The device flies up to 30 minutes on one battery. There are two batteries, i.e. the flight can last up to an hour. The flying range of the quadcopter is up to 7 km. With one battery, Yulia can offer a 10-minute flight to three people.
– The first customers were friends, acquaintances. Of course, I offered to try for free. Someone said that it was optimal to keep the goggles on the head for 10 minutes. Because five minutes is not enough and 15 is too much. Another customer suggested where to fly. Thus, my own focus group helped me understand what product to offer.
I decided that the optimal flight duration was 10 minutes. Ideally, flights should take place over historical or interesting places. I calculated that one person flies for 10 minutes, that is within an hour it is possible to have 5-6 customers, Yulia Savchenko noted.
The first customer that paid money came in a week. The services Yulia Savchenko provides today include excursions, wedding photography, and shooting real estate for sale. The Flight Certificate service is especially popular.
– This is mostly a seasonal business. Most customers come from April to October. It all depends on the weather. One will not fly when it is snowing, raining or there is a strong wind. For the first month I had an income of about UAH 4 thousand (net of taxes), while in summer it is UAH 10-12 thousand (also net of taxes), and in the fall – UAH 5-6 thousand. The tax is fixed – UAH 1,2 thousand plus 5% of income, says Yulia.
The cost of a 5-minute flight is UAH 150, 10-minute flight is UAH 180. If one wants to fly for an hour – there are discounts.
– What I do is, in fact, a rather unique service. Those who have the money for a quadcopter buy it for their own needs. Few can afford the devices like ours. There are no excursions like mine anywhere. That’s why I don’t have any competitors in Kherson, Yulia admits.
Yulia Savchenko advises everyone who wants to try their hand in a new business not to be afraid. She believes that one should try and something will definitely be a success.
– Ukraine is actually a magnificent country, especially our Kherson region. We have rivers, the sea nearby, lots of sun, cheap and tasty food. It is necessary to promote the region where you live. There is Greek mythology, Italian pasta. And what is Ukrainian? As if we have nothing to show. But this is not the case. We have a beautiful country. We need to find our uniqueness so that everyone knows that Ukraine is the sun, Ukraine is a watermelon, Ukraine is much, much more. We need to make ourselves known, Yulia believes.
Quadcopters as a tool for tourism development have been particularly actively used in the past three years, says Serhiy Pidmohylnyi, an ecotourism expert, coordinator of the GreenWays Ukraine network.
He also owns a quadcopter. He says that today they provide a very wide range of services, but in tourism it is primarily for promotion.
– People go hiking and take a quadcopter. During rafting, cycling, hiking – any activity is now often accompanied by shooting with drones. Drones are currently used for promotions – both professional and amateur. Today, the choice of equipment is large, with a very wide range.
There are quadcopters that weigh less than 250 grams, with which one can travel to different countries. There are heavier, bigger quadcopters, which are used for professional shooting. But smaller and more affordable ones are enough to shoot a promo for social networks. Now, the flying range, battery life increase, therefore this tool is very actively used, Serhiy Pidmohylnyi says.
At the same time, quadcopters are used in tourism for routing.
– We use drones for research. There are places where we want to lay out linear routes, to arrange infrastructure. We use the drone and better understand the location. There are also many tourist competitions, where there is a thematic nomination for aerial photography. In general, aerial photography is very attractive, and it is very difficult, almost impossible for a photographer to have such a perspective as with a quadcopter, the ecotourism expert stressed.
Today, in Ukraine there is a fairly loyal policy on the use of quadcopters. Drones weighing up to 20 kg can be used without notifying special authorities. However, flights (and, accordingly, shooting) are prohibited near airports, over military facilities, over strategic and infrastructure facilities, over large crowds of people.
Therefore, such a loyal policy only promotes the use of these devices in order to promote various tourist destinations.