An Investment to Bring Drones to the Masses

When we set out to launch the SkyFund along with our partners at DJI, our goal was to invest in great entrepreneurs who are propelling the expansion of the UAV ecosystem. In Dan Burton and Eli Tamanaha, we found just that.

We sit at the intersection of two important themes:

  1. A data explosion, in which modern enterprises are developing the personnel and processes to use data in powering business decisions;
  2. A renaissance of intelligent machines, in which innovators like DJI are democratizing access to flying sensors, cameras and data capture tools.

As with any nascent but complex ecosystem, there’s a need for service providers to help translate new technologies into core business value (as we saw with Hadoop, or with early enterprise mobility). Companies grasp the value of the data, but prefer the steady hand of a trained operator over self-servicing, or simply want to automate the process of ingesting the data on a recurring basis. They want the output, but they don’t know how to get it, as today’s supply of drone service providers remains largely opaque and unstandardized.

Against that backdrop, we’re excited to announce our investment in DroneBase, the marketplace for on-demand drone services. At the click of a button and for a price 10x cheaper than traditional alternatives, DroneBase provides businesses with simple access to the images, video, maps and data output to inform their business decisions.

And they capture it by leveraging a curated community of more than 500 professional drone pilots, across all 50 states. For these drone operators trying to grow their own businesses, and for enterprises trying to incorporate aerial data, DroneBase is a win-win solution that propels forward the broader category.

We’re already encouraged by the collaboration between DroneBase and DJI. In the months ahead we expect that pilots in the DroneBase network will benefit from special access to the newest DJI platforms and accessories, which will help to standardize the data outputs they provide to customers. At the same time, SDK-level product integration will ensure a seamless workflow experience from data capture, to editing and collaboration, to final delivery. The partnership will extend DJI’s industrial reach while enhancing DroneBase’s offering to each side of its network. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that bolsters the ecosystem as a whole — and, we hope, a model for the kind of cooperation the SkyFund seeks to enable.

We’re excited to work with Dan, Eli and their growing team (we’re happy customers too). DroneBase is the first of many investments we’ll be announcing over the months ahead. Appropriately, it’s a terrific anchor investment that sets the stage for much of our work to come.

– The SkyFund Team