Treeswift drone forest

Forest monitoring drone company Treeswift gets seed

A seed round for the company that could help grow more forests — it’s happened to Philadelphia-based drone company Treeswift. Treeswift is working to use drones to generate easily-accessible precision data and analyses, which could them be used by people working in forest management.

The drone startup in March announced a seed funding round of $4.8 million, bringing its total funding to $6.4 million to date.

$6.4 million is still relatively small means in the drone investment world, which saw a record $7 billion in investments in 2021. But it signals more interest in using drones for forest management, which is a relatively new space in the drone industry. A few other companies working in aspects of forest management include DroneSeed, which uses drones to blast fertilizer and seeds into the ground at 350 feet per second.

It also signals emphasis on investment in companies that provide drones as a service, rather than companies that primarily sell hardware or software. Drone service companies (such as Treeswift) received a combined $1 billion in 2021.

Treeswift drone forest
Courtesy of Treeswift.

What is Treeswift?

Treeswift is a relatively new company, having been founded just in 2020. Its leadership includes CEO Steven Chen, COO Elizabeth Hunter and CTO Michael Shomin.

Treeswift’s primarily product called SwiftCruise is a drone-based solution that’s made up in part by a drone, which flies through forests to collect detailed data. The second part of its solution is the ability to extract individual tree metrics through a combination of cameras, sensors, and advanced machine learning algorithms.

Such software and data services could be used in a multitude of aspects around conservation, such as carbon capture estimation and deforestation monitoring. It could also extend to other resource management use cases including timber value appraisal, fire mitigation, biomass understory and advanced growth forecasting.

Treeswift drone forest
An aerial view from a Treeswift drone. Courtesy of Treeswift.

Without drones, the process of gathering forest data has been relatively limited to remote sensing methods such as satellites or planes. The challenge? Those aerial views cannot capture the detail and complexity of everything beneath the canopy. And by using drones versus other products like timber cruises, companies can capture more detailed, complex forest environment data at faster speeds (Treeswift claims an operator can collect the required data 10x faster with SwiftCruise than through existing approaches).

Treeswift drone forest
Courtesy of Treeswift.

The Treeswift seed funding round

The seed funding round was led by Pathbreaker Ventures, with other investment by Crosslink Capital, TenOneTen Ventures, Contour Venture Partners, Boom Capital Ventures, Yes VC, Susa Ventures, Draft Ventures, Anorak Ventures, S7 Ventures, Awesome People Ventures, Switch Ventures, Convective Capital, and Dorm Room Fund.

“The implications for commercial forestry, carbon capture, and more are profound,” Ryan Gembala, Founder and Managing Partner of Pathbreaker Ventures said in a prepared statement. “I expect the data from their deployments to become a foundation for the biggest opportunities in nature-based solutions and management over the upcoming decades.”

Treeswift said the money will be used for general growth “on all fronts in order to meet customer demand.”

Current Treeswift customers include commercial forest company Molpus Woodlands Group, which is using Treeswift to more accurately allocate trees into product classes and to identify stem quality issues impacting value.

Other customers including Superior Pine Products Company and Weyerhaeuser Company are estimating forest timber quantity and carbon volumes. 

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