Drone Startups at Y Combinator S18 Demo Day

Y combinatory is a pretty good example of the fact that investment in drone startups can still reap rich dividends.

There were three drone startups present at the Y Combinator Demo Day, portraying commercial drone companies with the aim to enhance surveys, relief and rescue and warehouse inventorying.

What is Y Combinator?

The American seed accelerator, Y Combinator, is responsible for giving rise to successful ventures such as Dropbox, Airbnb, Coinbase, Stripe, Reddit and Instacart. There have been numerous other ventures that have taken advantage of this platform. Some of these include Paladin, a company that deploys drones to 911 calls, Corvus Robotics, an enterprise that excels at producing drones dedicated for warehouse inventorying and Sterblue, another company that offers its services in infrastructure surveys.

Not Attractive but Effective

They certainly are not the most attractive of companies out there as some of the other Y Combinator’s investments such as the wearable gizmo that can be stuffed into sports bras and claims to have the ability to identify breast cancers or a plant based meat substitute maker.

Enterprise based drone companies

However, the three companies that were the highlight of this year’s Y Combinator offer a distinctly prosumer centric approach to drone ventures. For instance, Paladin claim that their drones can automatically deploy to relief and rescue missions and provide the emergency response professionals with a real time video streaming of the happenings. Drones have been widely accepted by the first responders especially by 910 state and local police, sheriff, fire and emergency service agencies in America have been using 82% more drones than the previous year. For instance, drones let fire fighters see through the smoke and debris using thermal imaging cameras fitted in drones, to monitor the location of ground personnel, figure out smoldering hot spots and view the existing fire conditions.

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Infrastructure inspection

The French startup Sterblue claims to be manufacturing drones that have the ability to inspect and monitor power lines or wind turbines with pre-programmed routes that can have the task accomplished at a swifter pace than can be done by humans. It is not a novel concept in the drone industry and they are likely to face fierce competition in this regard such as that by the adequately funded Drone Deploy and Skycatch. Drone experts are of the view that there is still room for vast improvement in drone software. In this context, Sterblue’s integrated software solution can be a tool that was much needed.

Demo Day 2018

The aforementioned three startups received funding as part of Y Combinator’s semi-annual three month funding cycle which stretches from January to March and then June to August. Each cycle makes its way to an event called as Demo Day where startups showcase their expertise to more than 400 investors in a three day event. The most recent demo day was held from August 20, 2018 to August 22, 2018 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Aerones sets eyes at creating massive drones

Aerones is another drone startup that received funding as part of Y Combinator’s funding cycle in 2018 and endeavors to develop large sized drones equipped with 28 motors and 16 batteries and able to lift 400 pounds of payload.

Other Y Combinator beneficiaries

Other receivers of Y Combinator funding have seen varied degree of success. Vertical received funding in Winter 2015 and made a transition from drones to augmented reality. Flirtey, a drone delivery startup, received funding in Summer 2015 and was severely criticized for its one off drone delivery publicity stunts. They collaborated with Domino’s Pizza and delivered only four pizzas within the first five months of the launch of the partnership and were able to only deliver successfully to buildings within one mile of a single store in Whangaparaoa, New Zealand. However, Flirtey have been successful in becoming a part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program which is an achievement that even Amazon were not able to accomplish.

Dronebase partners with the big guns

Dronebase received Y Combinator funding in 2015 has seen rapid success over the past few years and also received funding from DJI. They have also forged alliances with Airbus Aerial and stock photo site Shutterstock.

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Enterprise space is expanding

Having said that, the latest investments in drone companies at the recent Demo Day represent vast vistas of opportunities for development in enterprise space. DroneDeploy, a drone mapping software firm, reported that the use of commercial drones increased by five times in 2017 and the construction industry were the greatest beneficiaries. FAA has forecasted that more than 420,000 commercial drone pilots are likely to be issued licenses by 2021. In January, 2018, the number of registered drones by FAA crossed the one million mark.

What do you think about the latest investments in drone startups at the Y Combinator event? Let us know by leaving a comment in the comments section.

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