DroneDeploy, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for commercial drone operators, has raised $20 million in a Series B round led by Scale Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors as well as High Alpha Capital.
Founded out of San Francisco in 2013, DroneDeploy works with any drone and device, enabling “professional-grade imagery and analysis” and 3D modeling. The company offers a mobile app for Android and iOS devices that’s compatible with the popular DJI drones, letting anyone map, survey, or inspect aerial views and gather data in the process. Though it can be used by anyone, DroneDeploy is largely aimed at industries with a need to manage specific data captured from drones — it has been used in construction, agriculture, mining, insurance, and more. The company claims its users have mapped more than five million acres across 130 countries.
Prior to today’s announcement, DroneDeploy had raised $11 million over two rounds between 2014 and 2015, and its latest cash windfall will be used to “develop additional enterprise features and enable businesses to extract even deeper insights,” according to a press release.
Today’s funding news is perhaps most notable because it comes a week before the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) introduces new regulations designed to bring clarity, simplicity, and safety to the burgeoning drone industry. The new rules target unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds and carrying out “non-hobbyist operations,” which covers businesses offering drone-related services. Some estimates reckon that opening up the nation’s airspace to unmanned aircraft could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy over the next decade.
“2016 has marked a tipping point for commercial drones,” explained Mike Winn, cofounder and CEO of DroneDeploy. “Businesses in every industry are leveraging drones and our software, and seeing that easy-to-capture, aerial data enables faster and better decisions. With next week’s passing of the FAA Part 107, enterprises are moving quickly to prepare their workforces to leverage drones company-wide.”
Other startups navigating the space include Hivemapper, which raised $3 million last year to help drone users map the skies, and PrecisionHawk, which recently closed an $18 million round for its land-surveying drone technology.