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DroneBase raises USD7.5 million as demand for commercial drones surges

DroneBase, a Los Angeles-based drone services provider, has raised USD7.5 million in a series C round of funding from a host of big-name investors including DJI, Valor Equity Partners and Union Square Ventures, reports

The company is also launching a new European business unit and expanding to target the renewable energy industry as it seeks to capitalize on “months of record-setting revenue” during the COVID-19 crisis.

The commercial drone market was already accelerating, with forecasts of the industry growing more than fivefold by 2026 from the USD1.2 billion it was reportedly worth in 2018. But the pandemic has increased demand for drone services in areas such as medical supply deliveries and site inspections.

Founded in 2014, DroneBase provides access to drones and professional operators who can capture aerial imagery and videos for industries ranging from construction to real estate and insurance. The ability to procure visual data from the skies was once limited to those with deep pockets, but aviation rules passed in 2016 opened drones up for commercial use, enabling companies like DroneBase to flourish.

While planes and satellites can be used to capture aerial imagery, companies can dispatch drones to snap up-to-date shots of a specific site from any angle.

DroneBase’s product extends beyond simple image capture and into actionable insights. The company can also produce an AI-enhanced report of any commercial property, covering aspects like roof measurement analysis.

DroneBase had previously raised around USD19 million, and with this further USD7.5 million in the bank the company is doubling down on recent growth by launching DroneBase Europe in Germany to serve its existing customer base across the continent. The company is also expanding to cover the renewable energy market with DroneBase Insights for Wind and Solar.

Company CEO and founder, Dan Burton, says that in the approximate three months of global lockdown, his company has experienced a surge in demand. “DroneBase has seen a business uptick throughout March, April, and May, with the latter being our biggest revenue month in the company’s history.”

A rise in popularity was expected prior to the global lockdown, but social distancing measures enforced by COVID-19 has placed the drone industry in a particularly strong position. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted back in April, “The pandemic has fast-tracked elements of digital transformation from several years to a matter of months. In the current climate, tools such as drones that allow people to safely return to work are bound to attract investors.“

Burton adds, “Technology has been a key factor in helping companies continue to work while social distancing. However, the pandemic accelerated the need and will only continue to boost the industry in a post-covid world.”

He concludes, “Before, the industries we serve relied on in-person contact where insurers went into homes to inspect roofs, commercial realtors evaluating buildings, and contractors working on-site. That interaction used to be a semi-sacred asset, but now feels like a huge liability.”

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