The next frontier: Drones

Scale invests in DroneDeploy

Drones are suddenly seemingly everywhere. Amazon Prime Air is predicting to have orders to you within 30 minutes via drones. CNN is launching an Air unit to integrate aerial imagery and reporting via drones. And in the Netherlands, the police are training eagles to prevent unwanted drone use.

Drones have captured Scale’s imagination as well. During our research and diligence on the market, we were most fascinated by the robust and growing commercial drone market. This led to us building a relationship with DroneDeploy, the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones, and we are excited to announce our participation in their $20M Series B financing. Our investment is driven by our enthusiasm in the market, the product, the traction, and the team.

The Market: We started seriously looking at the drone market last year, talking to customers and understanding their use cases. When a lot of companies are purchasing in a sector, the fundamental trend that is propelling these companies must be working. Sales of drones have doubled every year and will likely surpass 2M this year. FAA’s implementation of Part 107 is officially opening the commercial drone market. Every potential commercial customer organization we talked to is either testing or rolling out drone operations. The direction of the tide is clear.

The Product: We are big believers in using ubiquitous and cheap hardware platforms to build large software businesses. By building on top of DJI drones, DroneDeploy has been able to focus on building the best software product for the market for a fraction of the cost of a hardware + software solution. Their product is so easy to use that any basic user can download their software, start a drone flight with an off-the-shelf drone, and explore the results of that flight instantly. We found that this both attracts users and massively expands the market opportunity.

The Traction: DroneDeploy is the largest software platform for commercial drones, with thousands of users, mapping across the globe. One of my favorite visualizations is their map growth over time  – now at a staggering 5M acres across 130 countries. The inflection is so steep that the first 2M acres took 16 months and the next 3M acres were added in less than six months. They are well positioned to become the software standard that will enable all drone users to get commercial value out of their drone.

The Team: The three founders (Mike, Nick, and Jono) have been iterating on business ideas together for years. Their energy, drive, and intelligence is apparent from the get-go. They have grown up with the drone industry and know the ins-and-outs like few others. This passion is what has let them iterate to their current business model and success. We couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with them.

Welcome to the Scale family, DroneDeploy!

Originally published August 24, 2016.