3 Crowdfunded Nano Quadcopter Drone Companies
We’ve highlighted before the risks of getting involved in crowdfunding ventures. While this is not considered investing per se, it still involves an outlay of money to purchase a product before it actually gets manufactured at scale. The world is full of “wantrepreneurs” who have an excellent idea they can sell you but then fall flat on their faces when it comes to delivering the actual product. In many cases, the people behind these crowdfunded companies lack the experience needed to take a product idea and then turn it into an actual product within budget and within a reasonable time frame. Some crowdfunded products end up delivering nothing at all… ever. Bearing these risks in mind, it’s always fascinating to see just how much money some of these crowdfunded products can raise.
If you’re trying to raise money from a VC, you have just a handful of people to convince to invest in your product idea. If you can raise $1 million in seed funding, that would be a fairly impressive feat as elaborated upon in an article by TechCrunch on how to raise a $1 million in seed money. We were therefore surprised to see that the top-3 drone projects on crowdfunding platforms Indiegogo and Kickstarter have raised over a $1 million each. That’s actually more impressive that achieving a seed funding round from a VC because you’ve had to convince future potential customers to buy a product you haven’t even built yet. We were even more surprised to see that all three companies are developing what we call “nano quadcopter drones”.
What is a nano quadcopter drone? Well firstly, the term “quadcopter” implies that there are a total of four rotors used to propel the drone. The term “nano” refers to the fact that the drone is exceptionally small, and with today’s technology, we’re referring to a size profile that can fit in the palm of your hand. Let’s take a closer look at these three nano quadcopter drone companies.
The highest funded drone project on Kickstarter ever was the Zano, a nano quadcopter drone being sold at a starting price of $198. Over 12,000 people pre-ordered this drone making this Kickstarter’s most funded European campaign ever having raised over $3.28 million. The product received all kinds of positive press coverage and even was shortlisted for a prestigious award leading to 3,000 more pre-orders in addition to the Kickstarter campaign. The company behind Zano, Torquing, delivered a total of 600 drones which didn’t offer the functionality that was originally promised and then the Company went bankrupt in November of 2015. Only 4 out of 12,000 Kickstarter backers ever received a drone. Say what!?!? Kickstarter commissioned a journalist to produce this 13,000 word report on the whole fiasco. That may be an interesting read, but 12,000 people are out $198 or more as a result of a company led by “wantrepreneurs” who had a great idea then couldn’t deliver on it.
The second biggest drone related project on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo is a product called “ONAGOfly” which has raised over $1.7 million so far. This “smart nano drone” offers such goodies as a 15 megapixel camera, “throw and fly”, GPS navigation, smile detection, obstacle avoidance, 15 minutes of battery life, and all of this is in a palm sized package. The whole value proposition is remarkably similar to that of the failed Zano, and the price point is almost exactly the same at $199 for the basic drone. Over 7,800 people have committed to purchasing one of these drones so far. While the drone looks badass, we wouldn’t be likely to throw down $199 after seeing how bad Torquing crashed and burned trying to deliver a very similar product offering. Still, if you feel you absolutely need to get your hands on one of these, you have 13 days left before the campaign closes. They are guaranteeing delivery to backers by the end of March 2016. If you want to wait and see if they are able to deliver to backers first, the ONAGOfly will be made available for retail distribution by April of 2016 at a price point of $299.
The most funded drone project on Indiegogo is the Micro Drone 3.0 which has managed to raise over $3.2 million from over 32,000 backers. The London based company behind the Micro Drone, Extreme Fliers, has been developing their drone offering since 2011 and has successfully produced two models already. The drone offers the same types of functionality that the ONAGOfly offers, but also gets quite creative as well. You can 3D print your own custom frames for the drone, and it even integrates with Google cardboard VR so that you can fly it from the camera’s point of view. While the Micro Drone 3.0 was expected to be shipped to backers in November of 2015, their most recent update states they expect to begin shipping their first 2,000 units on January 25th 2016.
According to Research and Markets, there is a high demand for nano drones in military defense. It’s also easy to see how these drones could be used for private security as well. Imagine having a swarm of these nano drones that were programmed to patrol buildings and recharge themselves in a coordinated fashion while doing so. These small companies are pushing the boundaries of drone miniaturization which will pave the way for increased potential uses which will in turn drive growth in this niche.
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