SIDNEY – What started as a hobby inspired by his son’s toy drone has developed into a dream of a full media company, a dream Devin Brautigam quit his job for and cashed out his 401(k) to finance.
Brautigam said he’s all in on From Above Aerial, the company he started in July 2018 with a single drone. Running the company now is his full-time job, and his business has expanded to include numerous services including photography and videography of community events, weddings, real estate promotions, business promotions and personal property shots.
“It’s just the beginning,” Brautigam said. “We’ve got a long road ahead of us, and I think that we can definitely make some good stuff happen in Shelby County and the counties around us.”
Brautigam’s venture into photography has progressed fast. It was just last year when he bought his oldest son, 12-year-old Noah, a toy drone that become the inspiration for his company. The joy of playing with that toy coupled with the awe of watching drone footage on “Planet Earth” led Brautigam to put in two months of overtime at Area Energy & Electric, Inc., so he could afford his own professional drone.
He posted his photos and videos on Facebook and developed a strong local following. He also had photographs appear in international competitions including the Fine Arts Photography Competition, Smithsonian Competition, Photography Grant Competition and Sony World Photography Competition.
As his business started requiring more and more attention, Brautigam decided it was time to make it his full-time profession.
“We’d been getting pretty busy so we decided to make the leap of faith pretty much and go full time with it,” he said. “I told my wife, you can spend your whole life building somebody else’s dreams for them, you know what I mean, or you can make that leap of faith and try to build your own. I decided to go ahead and try it, and if it don’t work I can always go back and find something else.”
Taking the leap did cause anxiety for Brautigam and his wife, Danielle.
“With three kids it’s scary,” he said. “I’ve got three little ones. So when I told my wife, there was a moment of silence for about three hours.”
It’s taken a lot of money and a lot of practice for Brautigam to get his business going. He’s spent about $7,000 on equipment and is adding more to expand his capabilities.
“I’ve been nothing but running around busy,” Brautigam said. “People are calling me left and right.”
Brautigam has worked with local real estate agents to enhance the videos they can show to their clients, likening his productions to what viewers see on HGTV shows.
“It’s kind of like bringing the West Coast vibe type of photography and videography to Ohio,” he said. “Everything is really smooth and upbeat tempo music and stuff like that. You just don’t have that around here.”
He’s also adding on-ground video equipment that he can pair with his drone. The combined capabilities allow him to capture events like weddings from a variety of angles.
“We’ve got great community backing. Our community is amazing, both in Shelby and in Miami County,” Brautigam said. “Between both counties, it’s been really great to have the backing and support of a small business. That’s been really good. That’s what’s been keeping us going.”
Miami and Shelby counties have been the top areas for From Above Aerial. The business also has expanded into other locations such as Auglaize, Champaign and Darke counties.
Federal Aviation Administration clearance is needed to operate drones so Brautigam has focused his business on the areas where he’s well established and has permission to fly. He’s pushing to expand his reach, though, and has contacted potential customers nearby and beyond his normal range.
“The only thing that is going to stop me from progressing in this business is myself,” Brautigam said. “So as long as you stay on the phone and stay grinding and stuff, I think that anybody can make it.”
This spring Brautigam expanded his services when he started using his drone to search for lost dogs. He helped find 13 lost dogs in the first month of the venture, utilizing his drone to make searching quicker.
Brautigam is adding a thermal camera to his outfit, which will allow him to find lost dogs even if they hide under a deck or in a thick woods. The capabilities also could help search and rescue efforts for lost people.
“The possibilities are endless for search and rescue,” said Brautigam, who previously was part of search and rescue operations when he worked as a police officer in St. Paris.
Individuals can learn more about From Above Aerial and all its services by visiting its Facebook page, visiting its website at https://aboveaerialohio.com/ or calling 937-489-6175.
Reach this writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.