Q1'17 saw a record quarterly deal high. The largest investment of the quarter went to Airmap.
Investment to drone companies continues to break records and is projected to reach new highs in 2017. 2016 saw a record of 100 deals worth approximately $454M in funding. In Q1’17, drone startups saw a quarterly deals record of 32 investments worth $113M. At the current run-rate, 2017 is projected to hit a new deals and dollars high of 122 deals worth approximately $506M in funding.
We define drones broadly to include software and hardware companies developing technologies related to unmanned aerial, marine, and/or land vehicles designed for unstructured environments. These technologies range from the manufacturing of drones to the analysis of data collected by drones, among other applications.
Using CB Insights’ data we dug into funding trends to drone startups. This research brief covers:
Annual Financing Trends
So far, 2017 YTD (through 06/07/17) has seen approximately 52 deals worth $216M, already beating 2014′s annual total by 11 deals and $52M. At the current run-rate, deals are projected to hit a new record of 122 deals worth approximately $506M in funding.
Both deals and funding to drone startups have been generally on an upward trend since 2012, though funding did see a 5% dip in 2016.
The largest investment so far in 2017 went to 3D Robotics, a fully-autonomous aircraft and open UAV platform that delivers systems for complex data collection. 3D Robotics raised a $53M Series D in Q2’17 that included participation from Foundry Group, Mayfield Fund, True Ventures, and Autodesk Forge Fund, among others. The investment brings total disclosed funding for 3D Robotics to $178.7M.
Quarterly Financing Trends
Digging into the quarterly data, Q1’17 saw 32 deals beating the previous quarterly record of 29 deals in Q3’16. The top deal in Q1’17 went to AirMap, a comprehensive digital map that allows unmanned aircraft system operators to visualize the airspace around them. AirMap raised a $26M Series B that included participation from General Catalyst, Qualcomm Ventures, and Lux Capital, among others.
Q3’15 remains the record high quarter for funding with $145M invested. This quarter’s dollar total was driven by a number of sizable transactions including a $60M round to YUNEEC, a developer of electric aviation, and a $42M Series B to EHANG, a maker of personal drones. Though Q3’16 saw the lowest amount of funding since Q1’15, funding has risen again over the last two quarters.
Annual financing Trends by Stage
Early-stage (seed & Series A) deals have accounted for over half of total deal share annually since 2013. Deal share in 2017 YTD is at 62%, down from a high of 73% set in 2014.
The top early-stage deal in 2017 YTD was a $17.2M seed investment to Starship Technologies. Investors included Matrix Partners and Daimler, among others. Starship Technologies is building a fleet of self-driving delivery robots.
Mid-stage (Series B & C) deal share decreased slightly from 12% in 2016, to 10% in 2017 YTD with no Series C activity.
Deals falling into our “Other” category (including corporate minority and convertible notes) increased from 23% to 27% between 2016 and 2017 YTD.
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