While there are a few hardware-only funds and many funds will invest in drones if backed into a corner, Drone.VC looks to be the first fund that caters specifically to the robo set. Created by founder of Hacker Dojo, David Weekly, the fund is looking for backers to its syndicate on Angel List.
Weekly is already looking at some nice startups in Mexico, Singapore, and California and is heading to DroneCon in Boulder, Colo. to look for more.
He got hooked on drones when he ran his first autonomous mission with his own 3DRobotics IRIS quadcopter.
“I noticed a number of my friends starting to tinker with drones in the past few months – actually a lot of people who were web 2.0 entrepreneurs have gotten drones and started playing with them, so I was curious what all the fuss was all about,” he said. “The hairs on my arms tingled when we sent the drone on its first fully autonomous mission. Watching this thing I had just wirelessly commanded take off and perform a mission while streaming realtime telemetry to my laptop was really a 21st century moment, like seeing a self-driving car on the freeway.”
Weekly sees the drone market as unique in that it is up-and-coming and very focused. Rather than looking at all robotics, he has focused on one of the most popular spaces in the market right now, commercial and personal flying drones.
BI estimates that commercial drone sales will rise to $12 billion over the next decade, a slow and steady rise that should continue as more and more users understand why they want a flying camera platform.
“This space is going to be enormous in just a few years as applications in agriculture, real estate, small-object delivery (especially in developing markets), videography, and construction abound,” he said. “I can’t wait to be surprised by the industries these things are useful for.”
Weekly said the fund wouldn’t invest in military or armored drones, an interesting distinction considering that, until very recently, the only drones available were military grade. It’s clear that the consumerization of robots has just begun.