Aerial imaging company DroneBase is doubling down on its renewable energy efforts — and it’s got another $20 million to make it happen.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company recently raised another $20 million in its second funding round of 2021. That comes less than five months after closing $12.5 million in its Series C round. The latest $20 million round was led by Euclidean Capital, but also drew back in some of DroneBase’s previous investors including Union Square Ventures, Upfront Ventures, Energy Transition Ventures and Hearst Ventures. That brings the total funding raised by DroneBase to nearly $60 million. DroneBase says it will use the funding to continue its expansion efforts primarily within the solar and wind energy verticals.
“The raise will fund the company’s continued rapid global expansion in the renewable energy industry and other industries with high-value infrastructure,” according to a statement from DroneBase.
While DroneBase began as a sort of drone pilot directory (and has since grown to have 80,000 drone pilots in more than 70 countries on its roster), the company has pivoted more so into the enterprise sector, and more specifically renewables. Though, drone pilots on its roster also do more straightforward work like real estate photography, too. But it increasingly seems like something like energy is where the money is at.
“We’ve seen a significant shift in the intelligent imaging industry in the last six months; the industry has consolidated with several companies unable to compete globally or unable to find the right combination of software and deep vertical expertise,” said Ashvin Chhabra, who is President & Chief Investment Officer at Euclidean Capital and one of the investors in this latest DroneBase funding round. “We chose to invest in DroneBase because the company has a unique operational and software approach that creates value for companies with high-value assets in multiple industries, such as renewable energy, insurance, commercial real estate, and construction.”
It’s been a big year for DroneBase, which expanded into Europe in 2021. And last year, it launched a product called DroneBase Insights for Wind and Solar, designed for DroneBase renewable energy clients to use drones to inspect the components of wind turbines. The company says it has done more than 37GW of renewable energy inspections to date. It also acquired drone data provider Precision XYZ, and appointed former SunEdison executive Mark Culpepper to head its solar division in a further move toward solar industry dominance.
These days, DroneBase is capable of deploying drones for everything from capturing high-resolution photos of wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean to flying around commercial real estate complexes after a hurricane in Texas or flying manned aircraft to capture thermal data of a utility-scale solar farm. That info is then used for situations such as informing property managers or owners/operators of work that needs to be done, helping insurers make decisions, or helping engineers improve the build quality of infrastructure.
And whether from DroneBase or other drone service providers, renewable energy efforts are proving to be lucrative for the drone industry. Global energy flights increased 123% and users increased 86% between 2018 and 2019, according to data from drone mapping software company DroneDeploy.