DroneDeploy Announces New Financing, New Plans [Interview]

DroneDeployDroneDeploy, the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones, announced today that they have raised $20 million in Series B financing led by Scale Venture Partners.  The new investment brings DroneDeploy’s total funding to $31 million.

DRONELIFE spoke with DroneDeploy CEO Mike Winn and SVP of Marketing Darr Gerscovich about DroneDeploy’s explosive growth, the company’s mission and the future of commercial drones.

DroneDeploy has experienced an almost meteoric rise since the company’s 2013 start.  They were ranked 13 on Drone Industry Insights’ Q2 2016 global list of  Top 20 Drone Companies, moving up an impressive 23 slots; DroneDeploy recently announced that its users had mapped more than 5 million acres across 130 nations. Their growth seems exponential: “The amount of data generated by our users is doubling every 4 months,” the company reports.

Asked what they feel has contributed to DroneDeploy’s rapid expansion, the team says that a loyal customer base has been a major factor. “We have the largest user base of companies in our space – that contributes to our momentum in the market,” says Gerscovich.  CEO Mike Winn adds that as industries realize the value that drones provide, demand is increasing rapidly. “There’s hunger – people are looking for tools like DroneDeploy.”

As a company, DroneDeploy has invested heavily in their product offering, expanding their feature set to match the pace of customer demand.  Gerscovich says this focus on development has also helped to maintain growth.  “We are putting out new product at least once a month,” he says. “We’re setting a very rapid pace of innovation in the market.” The new funding will help DroneDeploy to keep up its pace of innovation, and to expand its penetration into the enterprise market.  The company plans to develop new features, enhancing their offering to serve large enterprise customers.  They are also actively hiring new talent:  “We’re a young company, we are growing very fast,” says Winn.  “We’re building a large team to support that.”

While the funding announcement comes in the same month as the FAA’s implementation of the Small UAS Rule (Part 107), Mike Winn says that government regulations aren’t really limiting what they can accomplish right now.  “As an industry, we like to look at the future and think of what else we can do,” says Winn.  “BVLOS flight and other regulations might open up new applications; we’re happy the FAA is working on them.  But drones are no longer some future technology – it’s actually possible to create a lot of value today with drones.”

DroneDeploy’s CEO would like to see that value realized everywhere.  Winn says that the ability to fly autonomously cuts across all verticals: “We’re trying to make the sky accessible for everyone – to make drones available in every industry.” Availability is important to the company’s philosophy.  “Part of our success story is that we can be used for free – anyone with a smartphone can download our app and use it,” says Winn.  Darr Gerscovich agrees:  “Accessibility is part of our mission – not only in ease of use but also the price point,” he comments.  “Free is a compelling price point.”

As part of the funding agreement, Rory O’Driscoll, Partner at Scale Venture Partners, will join DroneDeploy’s board.  Winn says that O’Driscoll’s experience in working with companies like Omniture and ExactTarget make him a valuable addition.  “Rory’s been a part of part of several major success stories in Silicon Valley… he’s going to bring some new enterprise experience to Drone Deploy, helping us to serve even larger companies,”  says Winn.  “The Enterprise, SaaS cloud offering is his expertise; and that is an area where Drone Deploy is unique in the market,” says Gerscovich.  “It’s a perfect fit for us.” The board also includes Kevin Spain of Emergence Capital, which has invested in cloud software leaders like Salesforce, SuccessFactors and Yammer.

With this latest round of funding, a more favorable regulatory environment, and a tide of positive customer sentiment behind them DroneDeploy seems poised to maintain the steep growth trajectory established in their first three years.  And as their product offering continues to expand and their user base to grow, the company is setting a brisk pace of development for the rest of the industry to keep up with.

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