Money is pouring into drone startups. According to a report by CB Insights, drone startups raised over $450 million in equity financing across 74 deals in 2015, up a whopping 300 percent over 2014 in terms of dollars.
2015 was the first year where commercial operators were really able to get started by using Section 333 exemptions, and the investment seemed to follow; on a funding basis, investment hit an all-time high in the third quarter, at $140 million.
The funding was led by $75 million in Series B financing by Accel Partners to China-based Dajiang Innovation Technology Co., better known as DJI, the largest consumer drone manufacturer in the world with reported $120 million in net profit in 2014. Close behind was rival Yuneeq with $60 million and 3D Robotics with $50 million.
The money isn’t just going to hardware makers. Between 2012 and mid-2015, according to CB Insights, 42 percent of the funded startups focused on software and services, with 40 percent focusing on hardware.
“All sorts of infrastructure will need to be taken care of around drones,” CBI analyst Mike Dempsey reported, citing fleet management and awareness technology. “Part of it is going to have to come from private companies, to make sure that however this industry evolves, it evolves in a positive way.”
To make make sure the industry evolves, AUVSI is hosting Startup Connection on July 18 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.
The event features speakers including Mike Abbott, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, who previously led the building of applications and services at Twitter, Palm and Microsoft; Gareth Keane, investment manager at Qualcomm Ventures, who led that company’s investments in 3D Robotics and Spire; and Derek Kerton, founder and principal analyst at The Kerton Group, an expert in wireless technology, content and applications.
AUVSI’s Startup Connection will include an investment insights panel, where participants can learn the ins and outs of investing, and a Matchmaker Speed Networking session, where startup, entrepreneur and inventor participants will be matched with vendor, investor and prospective partners in pre-arranged, back-to-back 10-minute meetings.
This is a guest post by AUVSI.