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WASHINGTON, DC—In a way it seems obvious that it would be a crowdfunding company that would be among the first to incorporate the use of drones in its financial due diligence: A company based on a relatively new tech-based business model adopting tapping into a newer form of technology to further its mission. The storyline almost writes itself.

But as Ben Miller, co-founder of Fundrise tells it, his interest in drones came about because a friend, who had established his own company offering drones as a service, wanted to see if they could innovate in the real estate space. Miller agreed to a trial run — and was astounded by the result.

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