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Sep 10, 2015 | Show Announcements

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.