Man who 'accidentally' learnt to repair drones making a killing
By - Jan 1st 1970
Kelvin Mbuthia did not imagine he could one day become a drone technician much sought after by clients. The middle-aged man was an expert in camera repair, a job that he was happy with. However, as he was going about his camera repair business, a client brought him a drone with some spare parts which needed to be fixed. Mbuthia had no idea how to fix it as he had never done such a job before.
Nonetheless, keen not to disappoint the client, he embarked on doing research online on how to fix the drone. He failed severally but finally, just before giving up, it worked. The client was impressed and paid him for the service. This greatly motivated him to learn more.
He then embarked on self-studies, specifically online-related searches. After a while, he hired a drone expert on a personal level to train him on important aspects of drone repair.
After a short while, he was able to make the repairs himself. “I started to repair drones in 2018. To repair the first drone, I did research online and a friend connected me with a trained expert who helped me until I grasped everything and then started repairing drones professionally,” he told City Biz.
Mbuthia is now a highly sought-after drone expert in Nairobi, thanks to the growing industry that has only a few technicians. He says as much as the industry is growing with many people and organisations acquiring the gadgets for various uses, there are only a few people who are interested in becoming drone technicians.
This is exacerbated by the lack of or rather few technical schools focused on training people on drone repair in Kenya.
“As far as I know, there are currently no institutions in Kenya that train people to repair drones so one has to rely on passion or seek qualified experts for personal training,” Mbuthia says.
As such, he is now a busy man and getting an appointment with him on matters not related to drone or camera repair is not an easy endeavour. His major clients include individual drone owners, producers, media organisations, and those who use drones just for fun.
During our appointment for this interview, he advised we can only get time with him at odd hours either after 6 pm or before 8 am. This is to avoid distraction from clients at his workshop located at Khelsi House on Luthuli Avenue.
The City Biz crew arrives at his office at 7.20 am before the 8 am slot agreed upon. We wait until 8.10 am when he finally shows up. After a few pleasantries, he takes us through the office and shows us different types of drones and how much they cost.
We then begin the interview which takes less than 15 minutes. His responses are short and clear, perhaps to avoid wasting time and embark on the day’s business. Fifteen minutes later, we are done with the interview and the first client arrives. He bids us farewell and embarks on addressing the client.
During our interview, he tells us he is able to make between one and three drones depending on the complexity of the work involved.
The charges for the repair also vary and are determined by the technicality involved.
However, the minimum charges for repairing a drone are Sh2,500. This means that on a good day, he can make approximately Sh10,000.
His greatest challenge, for now, is the cost of drone parts.
“When a drone crashes and depending on the intensity, some parts may get broken down and need to be sourced abroad. This makes the cost of repair to be high and some clients would opt to purchase new ones instead,” explains Mbuthia.
His future prospect is to open a training institute where young people will get an opportunity to learn skills that will help them earn a living.
“I am planning to expand my workshop and open a training centre where I will train young people to repair drones and make their life better,” he tells City Biz.
He went on: “I would ask the government to ease the process of getting a licence so that I can open that workshop.”
He says he gets his clients mainly through referrals and online marketing.