Jim Andelman of Bonfire Ventures, a Santa Monica-based seed fund focused on enterprise software, led the round with participation by Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Freestyle Capital; Kluz Ventures‘ The Flying Object also participated as a returning investor.
“We were blown away by the quality of Kittyhawk’s enterprise customer base: Fortune 500 companies who themselves are leading the way in enterprise UAS adoption,” said Jim Andelman, Managing Partner at Bonfire Ventures, who will be joining the Kittyhawk Board of Directors. “We were impressed by not only this current level of traction but also by the team’s thoughtfulness about the coming evolution of this industry. With their degree of forethought and vision, we’re confident that Kittyhawk will be well positioned to continue to lead the way. They’re two steps ahead of how we heard everyone else thinking about this space.”
Kittyhawk recognized early on that enterprises were moving drone programs in-house and that piloting a drone would become a skill, rather than a profession. This left enterprises wanting to in-house their drone program with a big dilemma: the wide and ever-changing array of apps, license agreements, support procedures, and data security concerns of having multiple vendors. Designed for commercial drone operations both large and small, Kittyhawk’s enterprise solution unifies the mission, the aircraft, and the data to empower companies to manage in-house commercial drone operations. From one singular platform, enterprises can manage the complexity of operators, aircraft, airspace, data analytics, insights and compliance to maximize safety and ROI.
“Kittyhawk is in the unique position of being central to all of the enterprise stakeholders — from data collectors to data consumers,” said Michael Blades, Senior Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Therefore, their market spans across a multitude of industries and verticals, they go deeper and wider than any other solution currently in the market.”
As a vocal advocate for the commercial drone ecosystem, Kittyhawk champions level playing fields, open standards, and responsible legislation around creating a UAS Traffic Management System (UTM). As the UTM matures, Kittyhawk will continue to work with the FAA, NASA, and Industry Trade Associations, as well as mature its product to further empower commercial customers.
“When paired with the broad portfolio of complementary data service offerings within Boeing, Kittyhawk is poised to help us shape the future of safe autonomous flight,” said Brian Schettler, Managing Director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures. “Boeing’s partnership with Kittyhawk on the FAA Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program heralds the continued maturation of the commercial drone industry. We are excited to continue to explore new capabilities made possible through foresight, expertise and a focus on holistic solutions that support the safe integration of unmanned systems into the national airspace.”
As enterprises integrate and scale the number of drones in their workflow, they will be searching for ways to increase their oversight. Kittyhawk’s new artificial intelligence-powered feature, Hawkeye, will help fewer people manage a rapidly increasing number of flights, particularly as autonomous operations come to fruition. Kittyhawk will use the same technology that genetic researchers are using to find cures for debilitating diseases and the same technology that search engines are using to surface insights from the entirety of humanity’s knowledge base.
Kittyhawk was founded in March 2015 and is composed of top-tier talent in both the aviation and technology sectors. Since its founding, Kittyhawk has built a team that is dedicated to helping create a safety culture in the commercial drone industry and has a passion for creating delightful experiences via a “product first” methodology. It’s this methodology and culture that has allowed Kittyhawk to outmaneuver competitors and draw the attention of aviation incumbents.
About Bonfire Ventures
Bonfire Ventures is an LA-based seed-stage venture capital firm founded by Jim Andelman and Mark Mullen. The firm invests exclusively in B2B software businesses, and typically leads or co-leads a startup’s first priced round. We back extraordinary founders who are seeking to build world-class market leaders, and aspire to serve as those founders’ most trusted advisors. Investments made by the firm’s founders include The Trade Desk (IPO), Burstly (acquired by Apple), Edgecast (acquired by Verizon), Datapop (acquired by Criteo), MessageLabs (acquired by Symantec), Orbitera and Bitium (each acquired by Google), Rainforest QA, ChowNow, SteelHouse, EmailAge, Invoca, Honk and others. For more information visit www.bonfirevc.com
About Boeing HorizonX Ventures
Launched in April 2017, Boeing HorizonX uncovers and accelerates potentially transformative aerospace technologies, manufacturing innovations and emerging business models. The pathfinder organization invests in new ventures and startups, seeks unique business opportunities for Boeing’s aerospace technology, and assesses aerospace industry disruption. The Boeing HorizonX Ventures investment portfolio is made up of companies specializing in technologies for aerospace and manufacturing innovations, including autonomous systems, energy and data storage, advanced materials, augmented reality systems and software, machine learning, hybrid-electric and hypersonic propulsion, additive manufacturing and Internet of Things connectivity. www.boeing.com/horizonx
About The Flying Object
The Flying Object (TFO) makes investments into US and international unmanned aerial systems technology and service companies that are leading the industry. TFO is managed by Kluz Ventures, a global investment firm, which also manages funds focused on artificial intelligence, blockchain, fintech, medical technologies and digital health. http://www.theflyingobject.com/
About Freestyle Ventures
Launched in 2009, Freestyle Capital is a San Francisco based seed stage fund comprised of serial entrepreneurs. We invest in market leaders in all verticals – consumer, marketplaces, enterprise, SaaS, B2B and B2C companies. Our portfolio includes market shifting startups such as Airtable, BetterUp, Digit Intercom, Kittyhawk, Narvar and Patreon. To learn more about us, please visit http://freestyle.vc
Kittyhawk unifies the mission, aircraft, and data to empower safe and effective drone operations. Based in San Francisco, the company develops full stack enterprise drone solutions for professional pilots and fleet managers across a multitude of missions. Established industry leaders in media, insurance, energy, rail transportation, education, law enforcement, fire, and emergency management agencies around the world all rely on Kittyhawk for their end-to-end drone operations. Founded in 2015, the company has received $6.5 million in funding from Bonfire Ventures, Boeing HorizonX Ventures, Freestyle Ventures, and The Flying Object (TFO). Discover more at https://kittyhawk.io and https://prkit.co/kittyhawk/