DroneBase, a Los Angeles-based provider of drone pilots for industrial services companies, has raised $7.5 million during the pandemic to double down on its work with renewable energy companies.
While chief executive Dan Burton acknowledged that the company was fundraising prior to the pandemic, the industrial lockdown actually accelerated demand for the company’s services.
Even with the increased demand, the company had to make some changes. It laid off six employees and refocused its business.
“In the past three months it’s become clear that this is a moment for drones as an industry,” Burton said. “We were really pushing hard as a company, certainly on revenue growth and harvesting all the investments we made in technology and having a clear, near-term view to profitability.”
The new round, which closed in May, was a slight down round, according to people familiar with the company’s business.
“We see raising a growth round later this year,” Burton said.
New investors in the company included Valor Equity Partners and Razi Ventures, who joined Union Square Ventures, Upfront Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital and DJI.
In all, DroneBase has raised nearly $32 million in financing, according to a company statement.
The new round will enable the company to focus on its data and analytics services that it has been developing around its core drone pilot provisioning technology — and gives DroneBase more financial wherewithal to expand its European operations under DroneBase Europe, which operates out of Germany.
“DroneBase’s expansion into renewable energy reflects our belief in the growth potential of wind and solar energy industries,” said Burton in a statement. “Since many energy companies have both wind and solar assets, we are well positioned to leverage our DroneBase Insights platform to grow our global market share in renewable energy.”
The key application for DroneBase has been allowing wind power companies to monitor and manage their turbines, improving uptimes and spotting problems before they effect operations, the company said.
For solar power companies, DroneBase offers a network of pilots trained in infrared imaging to detect anomalies like defects or hot spots on solar panels, the company said.
“DroneBase has established themselves as the drone leader in the commercial market, and its new work in renewables will have a lasting impact on the future of energy by keeping infrastructure operational for generations,” says Sam Teller, partner at Valor Equity Partners, in a statement. “We believe DroneBase will continue to be a valuable partner in drone operations and data analysis across a multitude of industries globally.”