Skyward is the latest drone-related company to raise capital in a $4.1 million seed round led by by a group of venture capital firms including Founders Co-Op, Norwest Venture Partners, Techstars Ventures and Verizon Ventures, the VC arm of the telecommunications giant.
Drone and robotics companies are increasingly popular in the agtech investment market and raised $97.7 million in the first quarter of the year, more than half of the total capital raised during the period, according to AgFunder.
Skyward’s funding will be used to expand its engineering and product development team, according to a company statement.
Founded in December 2012, Skyward is a cloud-based software platform that maps and logs drone flight paths to increase the safety and efficiency of drone use. The company connects drones and their operators with the information they need to fly safely and in compliance with regulatory and insurance requirements, according to its website.
“As professional helicopter pilots, we flew in the low airspace all the time,” Jonathan Evans, chief executive at Skyward, said in a press release. “There are rules of the road up there, and systems we live by, and Skyward is extending them to drones.”
The company raised $140,000 in convertible notes in May 2014 and $1.5 million in seed equity in June 2014 from veteran venture capitalist Tim Draper, Toivo Annus, partner at angel investment firm Ambient Sound Investments and Voyager Capital, an IT-focused VC firm, according to information on CrunchBase.
“Drones today are like handsets with no network infrastructure,” said David Famolari of Verizon Ventures, in a statement. “Just as Verizon provides the critical infrastructure necessary to power mobile networking at scale, Skyward will provide the critical infrastructure needed to power the safe, compliant operation of commercial drones.”
Famolari and Ari Newman of Techstars Ventures will be observers on Skyward’s board of directors.