It’s a nightmare to clean the windows of multi-story buildings, said Andrew Brain.
“It’s incredibly unsafe for folks to be hanging on the side of buildings — and it’s incredibly expensive for them to be there. Insurance liability has gone up 300 to 400 percent. … I was thinking that there’s got to be a better, faster, cheaper and safer way to do this,” said Brain, who serves as the co-principal of Brain Group, a property management and development firm, and has a background in commercial real estate.
His solution for dirty windows: drones.
“Initially, I was talking with a friend of mine about these drones that can be used to paint houses,” Brain recalled. “Later that day, I met with a man who handles our property insurance, and we discussed the major increases in liability. The drones were fresh in my mind, and it just clicked.”
Drone Wash — a commercial window washing company using proprietary drone technology as a delivery mechanism — was launched in fall 2021 by Brain and Leland Sanders, who owns and operates Touch of Class chauffeur and limousine service.
“Both of us are entrepreneurs who can’t sit still, so it just made sense to work together,” Brain said, nodding to his business partner. “We understand that commercial window washing is a time-consuming, laborious and very hazardous industry, especially after the first two stories. I’ve also talked to enough people in the real estate industry to know that this is a fairly widespread problem.”
Click here to check out Drone Wash.
Drone Wash uses state-of-the-art drone disinfecting technology developed by Lucid Drone Technologies — a Charlotte, North Carolina-based robotics company. Through its technology, Drone Wash is 6- to 10-times faster than the average window washer, Brain said, noting that its ability to be more efficient results in cheaper costs as well.
The drone serves primarily as a delivery mechanism for a special chemical solution that the duo developed and tested in order to preserve landscaping, they noted.
“We couldn’t go in with bleach and kill all the grass [below]; so we haved demoed the product on a couple of our buildings, and so far, it’s been successful,” Brain said. “… Basically we’ve got a rig on the ground that is taking the water and chemical, mixing it and then pumping it up to the drone to spray on the windows. The drone is really the paintbrush that the operator is controlling.”
Although the technology is designed to save users time and money, providing a safer method of window washing is the major accomplishment, the duo said.
“Why put a human being in the line of harm? Let’s put a machine that is replaceable up there instead,” Brain proposed. “I think using drones to accomplish tasks in a safer way is something that everyone wants to do.”
With new technology comes with some limitations, they acknowledged, noting that the drones can only clean buildings up to 110 feet and cannot fly in winds of more than 15 miles per hour.
After testing their product and process this fall, Drone Wash is starting to book jobs come spring, Brain said, noting that it must be warm enough outside for the windows to dry properly. Commercial buildings are the startup’s primary customer, he added, as it would currently not be as cost effective for residential homes.
Click here for pricing estimates.
The duo plans to have two or three more drones in commission by the end of the year; and they envision Drone Wash to be available in half a dozen cities in 2023, they shared.
“Anywhere where there’s a 3- to 12-story building is an addressable market for Drone Wash,” Brain said. “ … We see drones as being the new standard in window washing.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.