It’s hard to build a drone that’s high performance and affordable enough to compete with DJI’s popular and pervasive models. That’s something drone companies who built their own “platforms,” a.k.a. original hardware and proprietary software, are grappling with these days. The industry has seen belt-tightening measures at Parrot SA, a changing of the guard at Kespry and a dispersion of the Google Titan team at Alphabet this week alone.
However, venture and angel investors are now pouring capital into other areas of drone technology, including aerial services and drone software, as well as counter-drone (aka anti-drone) systems. Last year, Hangar, Convexum, SkySafe and others capitalized on this trend, chalking up meaningful rounds of funding. It is one that’s likely to continue in 2017. One indication is a new pile of investors who have recently topped off Dedrone’s Series A round.
Dedrone’s new investors include CEOs and former CEOs of big-name enterprise tech companies, four unicorns among them. They are: Aruba Networks’ CEO Dominic Orr, Ruckus Wireless CEO Selina Low, Meraki co-founder and COO Hans Robertson, the former CEO of Internet Security Systems Inc. Tom Noonan, and former Amobee and JahJah CEO Trevor Healy.
Dedrone builds hardware and software to detect when and where unwanted drones are flying overhead, and to alert people on the ground, or in manned aircraft, of their presence. The technology is used by law enforcement agencies, private security companies, property owners and corporations that need to monitor large venues or infrastructure, like airports or data centers.
Dedrone CEO and founder Jörg Lamprecht says no matter what laws are enacted by the FAA or its foreign equivalents, his business benefits. “All these laws need to be enforced,” he said. His company stays neutral and allows people on the ground to decide what they want to do about unwanted aerial vehicles in their airspace, whether that’s shooting the drones down or getting in touch with a pilot to tell them to fly away. Right now it’s not legal in the U.S. to take down a drone, but it is perfectly legal to monitor airspace, Lamprecht notes.
The startup has surpassed 200 customers around the world, with at least 30 in North America. Most famously, it has helped Citi Field Stadium, home of the New York Mets, and other sports arenas keep unauthorized flying cameras out of the way during events where one wrong move could risk the injury of an athlete or ticket-buying fan.