Commercial drone company PrecisionHawk has raised $75 million in a round of funding led by Third Point Ventures, with participation from a number of other investors, including Intel Capital, Comcast Ventures, Verizon Ventures, NTT Docomo Ventures, Senator Ventures, Yamaha Motor, Constellation Technology Ventures, and Syngenta Ventures, the VC arm of agricultural giant Syngenta.
Founded out of Raleigh, North Carolina in 2010, PrecisionHawk supplies drones and associated software and services that enable various types of companies to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
For example, the insurance industry can use data garnered from a UAV to assess applications, while a construction company may use it to survey a site before starting work. In addition to the drones themselves, PrecisionHawk can provide mapping tools, analytics, and training to help make sense of the data.
PrecisionHawk had raised around $30 million in prior funding, and with its latest cash bounty the company plans to “build upon its lead” in the commercial drone space by expanding its team, developing its products, and making “strategic acquisitions,” according to a statement.
Nabbing strategic investment from the likes of Syngenta is a major coup for PrecisionHawk and is a strong indicator of how drones can be put to use in agriculture and farm management.
“Syngenta has been a PrecisionHawk customer since 2015 and has experienced first-hand the impact of the technology platform — both augmenting and replacing a variety of manual processes for more efficient and scalable operations,” noted Katrin Burt, managing director of Syngenta’s VC arm. “This investment reflects our commitment to advancing technologies that could have a real impact within agriculture and our excitement about the potential for PrecisionHawk to lead the commercial drone space across multiple industries.”
The commercial drone market is edging toward becoming a $127 billion industry by 2020, according to PwC, and we’ve seen a spike in venture capital (VC) investment in drone-related companies recently. Indeed, an estimated $454 million was plowed into UAV startups in 2016 alone, which included the likes of San Francisco-based DroneDeploy and San Carlos-based Prenav. More recently, Kespry raised $33 million in December to help companies capture aerial imagery through drones, while last week Iris Automation raised $8 million to help UAVs avoid collisions.
In short, a plethora of drone-tech startups are battling over a lucrative market. But PrecisionHawk hopes to achieve greater scale by offering a fully integrated end-to-end service that includes hardware, services, and strategy.
“PrecisionHawk provides a full enterprise solution stack,” PrecisionHawk CEO Michael Chasen told VentureBeat. “From services, like strategy and custom development, to technology, like drone hardware, sensors and software, we provide end-to-end support for integrating aerial data and analytics into the enterprise. End-to-end is important because the ability to provide a full custom solution is what differentiates PrecisionHawk from any other provider of commercial drone technology.”
The company said that it has made 100 new hires in 2017 and now claims clients in 150 countries across agriculture, energy, insurance, government, and construction.