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Christina Cardoza

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What venture capitalists are looking for in the drone industry


While 3D Robotics and DJI seem to be leading the drone industry and headlines with their latest releases and funding rounds, there is still room for other players in the game.

“The market is huge; we are just in the very beginning, and there is an opportunity for there to be multiple winners just like there are for other industries,” said David Lam, director and head of the U.S. office of WestSummit Capital.

Lam was joined by Miles Clements, principal at Accel Partners; David Famolari, director at Verizon Ventures; and Sanjit Dang, investment director at Intel Capital at the International Drone Conference and Exposition (InterDrone) this week in Las Vegas to talk about the next wave of drone innovation and what their organizations look for when considering an investment.

(InterDrone is produced by BZ Media, the publisher of InterDrone News.)

While none of the venture capitalists could give specifics about their recent investments, they were able to give an insight into what makes a drone startup, developer or business stand out.

While all the hype lately has been around consumer drones, the speakers saw the enterprise market as the largest opportunity. According to Famolari, Verizon Ventures looks for companies that are close with their customers and are solving their problems. Dang revealed that Intel Capital is looking for technologies that can help catapult the drone market forward, whether that means through software or hardware. In general, the speakers cited strategic and financial reasons for investing in a company, such as the benefits for investors, how will the company expand the market or create a new market, and whether it makes sense financially.

Some advice the speakers had for drone entrepreneurs looking for venture capital included:

  • Continue to network, work hard and be kind
  • Be conscious of how you frame opportunities to venture capitalists, and consider how your company sees strategic value
  • Stay humble and expect to learn much because the drone industry is rapidly changing every day

“The evaluation of your company, the money, and the ability to fundraise is in yours and [your] customers hands,” said Dang.

Sep 10, 2015 11:30:47 AM

Topics: InterDrone

What’s the latest with the FAA’s drone regulations?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is still working on its first step in regulating small unmanned aircraft systems. A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was publicly released Feb. 15, and the period for comments closed on April 24. Now the industry is waiting for the FAA to complete its analysis, and if the recent FAA Regulations panel at the International Drone Exposition and Conference (InterDrone) in Las Vegas this week was any indication, the industry will have a long wait.

Sep 10, 2015 11:07:00 AM

Topics: InterDrone, Regulation

Getting rid of negative drone perceptions

Drones invade our privacy. Drones kill people. Drones threaten our safety. These are all concerns the public has about the new age of drones, but these concerns are unmerited, according to Romeo Durscher, director of education at DJI, a provider of drones and quadcopters. The problem is that there are a lot of people who have no idea what drones are or what the technology can do.

Sep 10, 2015 10:30:58 AM

The future of drones means drones combined with anything

2015 has been a big year for drones. For some, this year marks the year of drones, but for Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and founder of DIY Drones, 2016 will be the year the industry’s innovation really takes off.

Sep 9, 2015 4:15:00 PM

Topics: InterDrone

3DR turns its focus to education

3D Robotics (3DR) wants to help accelerate the drone industry by putting drones in the hands of students. The company has announced a new academic program dubbed 3DU.

Sep 2, 2015 2:17:11 PM

Intel puts its money on drones

Intel is entering the drone industry through the Hong Kong-based aviation firm Yuneec. The company announced it will be investing more than US$60 million in Yuneec, and is partnering with the aviation firm to further their drone development.

Aug 27, 2015 11:11:24 AM

Topics: Updates

Researchers to test a drone traffic-management system

Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno, are trying to create a safe airspace for drone pilots to fly their unmanned systems with a new traffic-management system. Their research is part of NASA’s Ames Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management initiative to get aircraft operating in low altitude.

Aug 13, 2015 11:19:50 AM

Topics: Control Systems

Amazon sets its sights on drone highways

Amazon’s drone delivery plan is about to get even more ambitious. The company proposed a drone highway during NASA’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management Convention.

Jul 29, 2015 2:38:38 PM

The battle between open-source and proprietary software for drone development

Open-source software is helping move along the drone industry with easy access to code, software, designs, and features that can be shared, modified, redistributed and implemented into developers’ applications and hardware. But proprietary software is also trying to mold the industry by providing advanced hardware and software solutions, as well as new technologies. So which is better when it comes to drone development?

Jul 23, 2015 10:19:53 AM

Topics: Software

Sony joins the drone industry

Sony is entering into the world of drones through a joint effort with ZMP Inc., a robotics startup. The two companies have agreed to collaborate on the development and launch of enterprise solutions that utilize autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles.

Jul 23, 2015 9:44:00 AM

Topics: Releases