RICHMOND, Calif., Nov. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Today Natilus, a manufacturer of large aircraft drones, announced it has closed a second round of seed funding with investment from Starburst Ventures, Seraph Group, Gelt VC, Outpost Capital and Draper Associates. The funds will go toward the company’s aggressive scaling strategy, with the first Federal Aviation Administration-approved flight for its 30-foot prototype scheduled for late 2017, and a commercial market launch in 2020.
Starburst Ventures Invests in Natilus to Scale Large Cargo Drones
Just as the long-haul freight sector has made huge strides in efficiency gains and cost reduction due to technology innovation, the $15.5 trillion global freight market is poised for disruption as it strives to offer customers more cost-effective delivery solutions beyond the decades-old vessels and aircraft which serve as its primary sources of transport. Natilus has identified the sweet spot between sea and air freight in the international freight market, offering a large cargo-capacity UAV that challenges current incumbents on price and speed of commercial-scale freight delivery.
“Two years ago, Natilus gave its pitch for the first time at our Los Angeles selection committee, and that exposure led to its initial seed round,” said François Chopard, Founder and CEO of Starburst Ventures. “Today 47% of Starburst’s portfolio companies have now closed Series A rounds at an average of $10 million. We were pleased to provide the technical and business due diligence, and now investment, to take Natilus to the next level. That’s the perfect demonstration of our investment strategy in action.”
“Today’s freight sector is limited to just two choices when it comes to meeting customer demand – an expensive 14-hour route by air or a slow-going 21-day ocean trip. Why haven’t there been more options?” said Tuff Yen, Founder and President of Seraph Group. “Natilus’s value proposition, the ability to provide cost-effective cargo container-sized air options, creates a far-reaching impact on cost of goods, logistics, finance and commerce.”
Astral Aviation, a leading air freight provider in Africa, is “excited for Natilus’s progress in developing large cargo drones for the industry. Astral is looking to incorporate aerial vehicles such as Natilus into their African network to complement their current schedule and improve cargo connectivity in Africa,” said Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation.
Outpost Capital is a believer in globalization. “Over the last 10 years