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Growing Your Business During Quarantine: DroneBase Raises $7.5 Million in Series C, Expands Operations to include Renewable Energy, European Markets

BY Zacc Dukowitz
25 June 2020

These are tough times for businesses everywhere.

The economic impact of quarantine has been felt across almost every sector of business throughout the world, with some major companies forced to close and others dramatically reducing operations to survive.

But despite all of this, DroneBase is thriving.

Image credit: DroneBase

In fact, the company says it has continued to increase sales and set new revenue records every month since quarantines began, starting in March and continuing through May.

And now, in addition to those record months, DroneBase just announced a successful Series C fundraising round.

DroneBase, a company that offers both aerial data analytics and aerial services, raised a total of $7.5 million in its Series C, bringing the total the company has raised to $32 million.

New investors in this third round of funding include Valor Equity Partners and Razi Ventures, who joined existing investors Union Square Ventures (USV), Upfront Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, and, notably, DJI to invest further in DroneBase.

DroneBase Expands into Europe and Renewable Energy

Along with its fundraising news, DroneBase has shared plans for expansion, which will be funded by the capital raised in the Series C round.

This expansion will take two forms.

The first is a physical expansion of DroneBase’s presence into European markets, with the opening of DroneBase Europe, which will be based in Germany. DroneBase already has customers in Europe, and the opening of the new office will help the company provide further support to those customers while continuing to grow its presence there.

The second way that DroneBase is expanding is into the renewable energy market, with the establishment of DroneBase Insights for Wind and Solar.

DroneBase Insights for Wind and Solar

DroneBase Insights for Wind and Solar will focus on services for renewable energy companies, providing them with a platform and aerial support for inspecting renewable energy assets like wind turbines and solar panels.

DroneBase has established themselves as the drone leader in the commercial market, and its new work in renewables will have a lasting impact on the future of energy by keeping infrastructure operational for generations.

– Sam Teller, Partner at Valor Equity Partners

At the center of DroneBase’s new division is a platform that uses an autonomous flight system for renewable energy inspections. The platform will help companies collect consistent data during inspections, extract actionable insights from that data, and improve management of the lifecycle of their assets.

DroneBase’s machine learning algorithm has been trained on a large database of wind turbine imagery, allowing it to quickly review aerial footage and identify areas where there might be damage to a turbine’s blades, or to other key components of renewable energy production. These insights can be crucial for the maintenance of turbines, and can be derived more quickly and efficiently with drones than with manual methods, which require a person to climb into a turbine to inspect it with the naked eye.

Image credit: DroneBase

For solar panel inspections, DroneBase will be offering customers a thermal pilot network trained by the FLIR Infrared Training Center.

Image credit: DroneBase

The thermal pilot network gathers accurate thermal data, allowing companies to collaborate and share thermal analysis efficiently amongst team members.

DroneBase has been instrumental in helping us scale solar asset inspection and analysis across North America. Their ability to provide 100 percent aerial coverage by using drones and manned aircraft gives them a tremendous competitive advantage.

– Jamie Mordarski, Director of Operations and Maintenance, Americas at SMA Solar

Using Drones for Inspections Means Big Savings

Companies in all kinds of industries, from Oil and Gas, to Power Generation, to Renewable Energy, are starting to realize that using drones for visual inspections instead of people can mean significant savings.

Flyability, a company known for its Elios 2 drone made to conduct inspections in confined spaces, has helped companies save hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single inspection by removing the need for building costly scaffolding and significantly reducing downtimes for key assets.

And drones can help companies realize similar savings in the renewable energy sector.

Image source

A study conducted by Bloomberg’s research arm BloombergNEF (BNEF) has found that there is big money to be saved for companies using drones for inspections in the renewable energy market.

In one study, BNEF found that the use of drones in offshore wind farms in Europe saved companies between $1,17 and $1,385 per turbine per year in inspections (depending on whether they were in-house or by a third party). These savings reduced the overall cost of producing electricity by 1%.

Source: BloombergNEF

To put this in perspective, the American Wind Energy Association estimates that there are almost 60,000 wind turbines operating in the U.S., and that number is growing every year. According to BNEF’s findings, using drones instead of people for visual inspections of those turbines could help the companies that own them save $60 million every single year.

And that’s just in the U.S.

When you start looking at these numbers, you can see why DroneBase is thriving in a time when most companies are struggling. If you can find a way to save people money, you’ll always have work.

Know of other companies thriving right now, or excited to hear about DroneBase’s expansion into renewable energy? Share your thoughts on this thread in the UAV Coach community forum.

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