KEY POINTS

  • Frank Wang, dubbed the world's first drone billionaire, has a net worth of $4.8 billion
  • He is the founder of Chinese technology company DJI
  • Wang dropped out of his first university to pursue his passion for building flying machines

Frank Wang built his multibillion-dollar fortune around drones, but surprisingly, he started his career differently from other self-made billionaires. 

Dubbed the world's first drone billionaire, Wang’s current net worth is estimated to be around $4.8 billion, Forbes reported. The Chinese entrepreneur is the founder and CEO of technology company DJI (Dajiang Innovation), the no. 1 commercial drone manufacturer in the world. 

Forbes estimated that he currently owns about 40% of DJI, which is responsible for about 70% of drones in the market today.

It is not surprising that Wang's net worth has now ballooned to almost $5 billion, with the demand and usage of drones increasing each year. Drones have become a lifestyle gadget for some who use them for recreational purposes, but they can also be utilized in light shows, security, filmmaking and rescue operations.

Since becoming more affordable and easier to operate, the sales of the flying gadget have skyrocketed. Wang’s most popular product is the Phantom drone, which carries a price tag of $1,000.

The Chinese engineer's interest in things that fly started at a young age. In college, he entered the East China Normal University in Shanghai to learn about psychology, but his love for flying machines was simply too much that he opted to drop out and enroll at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to pursue his dreams, a report from Week in China revealed. He received his undergraduate degree in electronic and computer engineering in 2006 and a master’s degree five years later.

The Hangzhou, China native took inspiration from the successes of Chinese companies Alibaba and Xiaomi, according to Celebrity Net Worth. He risked what was left of his scholarship and financed DJI in its early days.

DJI’s initial product was sold for $6,000 at the time. In 2012, Wang focused on building a complete package for a drone, and a year later, debuted Phantom, a pre-assembled drone that is ready to fly.

As the popularity of drones grew, so did the net worth of the 40-year-old. By 2015, around 40,000 drones had been sold in the market, most of them being Phantom models. DJI soon found itself competing with several rivals in the industry such as Parrot, 3D Robotics and Berkeley. 

In 2018, DJI’s valuation skyrocketed to $15 billion, per Forbes. Due to his company's continued success, Forbes ranks Wang 102nd in the China Rich List for 2020. Moreover, he is also on the 349th spot in the billionaires list this year. 

Wang’s success story is different from that of other Chinese businessmen because he only had one product to offer but it had so much potential. He might have dropped out of college to pursue his passion, but in the end, it all paid off for him.

The drones can beat the traffic jams ambulances have to negotiate, helping contribute to the fight against the coronavirus The drones can beat the traffic jams ambulances have to negotiate, helping contribute to the fight against the coronavirus Photo: P-art Studio / Paulina SZAJBEL