A St. Thomas MBA student and her husband are taking videography to new heights with their “unmanned” business. Kristine Arneson and her husband Adam own CAVU (Creative. Aviation. Unmanned.), a company operating small unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft equipped with professional-grade video and still cameras. They gather imagery that was near impossible just a few years ago.

CAVU found a value gap in the need for high quality imagery in the real estate marketplace. The company highlights positive aspects of homes through aerial footage, replacing the single-vantage point shots from a boom and camera, and the expense of renting a helicopter. The majority of the homes the company shoots are higher-priced, on a waterfront, have acreage or are small city homes that need a different perspective to show the property.

Doubling in revenue each year since it started in 2011, CAVU’s list of clients and markets continues to grow. It covers events and shoots for advertising agencies, producing footage for end clients such as Giants Ridge, Lifetime Fitness, 3M and Red Wing Shoes. It’s entering the field of industrial inspections. Because this industry is so new and CAVU is one of just a few players locally, Kristine Arneson said her St. Thomas studies should help the business grow in size, and solidify itself as the major player in the Twin Cities.

“Working toward my MBA has helped me grow confidence in the sometimes daunting world of entrepreneurship,” said Kristine Arneson. “As a small business owner it’s so rewarding to apply all the disciplines I learn in class and see their impacts on our business in the real world.”

Kristine and Adam’s skill sets overlap in this two-person business. Adam is the life-long aviator that builds the aircraft, and flies daily shoots to capture aerial video and photos. Kristine uses her project management background to provided day to day business support, give creative direction and manage Adam’s talents, all in hopes of making this husband and wife duo the go-to company for this emerging industry.

Threats

In May, NPR reported on one challenge drone-entrepreneurs face when it comes to air-rights. The FAA has declared that the air above 500 feet is the public domain, and more than 50 years ago the Supreme Court ruled that landowners own the sky above their homes up to at least 83 feet. “But the decision still left a gap. If the air above 500 feet is public property, and the air below 83 feet is private property, what about the space in between?”

“If there’s a need for an aerial service, we have always been willing to find a way to explore how we can meet that unique challenge,” added Kristine. “That’s the fun and exciting part about this. The industry will only keep growing and we’ll have to see where it goes. There’s always new avenues of service for our unmanned aircraft.”