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DroneBase, a Los Angeles-based provider of drone pilots for industrial services companies, has raised $ 7.5 million during the pandemic to double down on its work with renewable energy companies.
While chief executive Dan Burton acknowledged that the company was fundraising prior to the pandemic, the industrial lockdown actually accelerated demand for the company’s services.
Even with the increased demand, the company had to make some changes. It laid off six employees and refocused its business.
“In the past three months it’s become clear that this is a moment for drones as an industry,” Burton said. “We were really pushing hard as a company, certainly on revenue growth and harvesting all the investments we made in technology and having a clear, near-term view to profitability.”
The new round, which closed in May, was a slight down round, according to people familiar with the company’s business.
“We see raising a growth round later this year,” Burton said.
In all, DroneBase has raised nearly $ 32 million in financing, according to a company statement.
The new round will enable the company to focus on its data and analytics services that it has been developing around its core drone pilot provisioning technology — and gives DroneBase more financial wherewithal to expand its European operations under DroneBase Europe, which operates out of Germany.
“DroneBase’s expansion into renewable energy reflects our belief in the growth potential of wind and solar energy industries,” said Burton in a statement. “Since many energy companies have both wind and solar assets, we are well positioned to leverage our DroneBase Insights platform to grow our global market share in renewable energy.”
The key application for DroneBase has been allowing wind power companies to monitor and manage their turbines, improving uptimes and spotting problems before they effect operations, the company said.
For solar power companies, DroneBase offers a network of pilots trained in infrared imaging to detect anomalies like defects or hot spots on solar panels, the company said.
“DroneBase has established themselves as the drone leader in the commercial market, and its new work in renewables will have a lasting impact on the future of energy by keeping infrastructure operational for generations,” says Sam Teller, partner at Valor Equity Partners, in a statement. “We believe DroneBase will continue to be a valuable partner in drone operations and data analysis across a multitude of industries globally.”
French startup 45-8 ENERGY, who is exploring eco-friendly helium for uses in many industries, has announced completing its first fundraiser of nearly €1.3 million from 14 private and public European investors. It’ll use the funds to accelerate its development and produce ecologically-responsible helium in France, on a wider scale.
Founded in Metz in 2017, 45-8 ENERGY is all about a strategic resource: helium. Helium is a rare and highly sought after resource, due to its physico-chemical properties (lightweight, non-flammable, non-toxic, volatile, poorly soluble, etc.), being environmentally friendly, and non-replicable. “It is respectful of the environment because it does not participate in the greenhouse effect”, adds Camille Sigu, manager at 45-8 Energy .
So far helium is not produced equally across the world, meaning that often it has to be imported at high energy costs. Helium is currently essential for many industries (medical, electronic, aeronautical and space), making its local production crucial. Helium is one of the first ‘helium exploration’ companies in Europe, and is bringing this resource a lot closer to home.
The two founders of 45-8 Energy, Benoît Hauville and Nicolas Pélissier started working on 45-8 ENERGY after they found out an alarming fact: 100% of the helium consumed in Western Europe is imported from the US, Qatar and Algeria. In 2018, this represented 31 million cubic metres, making it the second largest market in the world with almost 19% of consumption. Plus, price has multiplied continually in the past few years. “Western Europe imports all its needs at great cost: it is a strategic resource whose price has tripled in less than five years”, explained 45-8 Manager Camille Sigu.
In addition, due to a slowdown during the coronavirus lockdown, demand has risen even further. For this reason, local industries are keener than ever to look at alternative ways of producing helium locally and avoid relying on outside influences.
45-8 Energy will use the freshly raised funds to continue to accelerate its R&D projects, such as ‘Near Surface Exploration’ (exploring natural helium leaks at the ground level surface), and the more classical approach project ‘Deep Exploration’ (exploring, discovering and producing helium accumulations in the subsurface). Via these projects, the team is on track to apply for an Exploration license by 2020 and conduct one or more exploratory wells by 2022. They are optimistic about reaching their targets in the next few years: “We aim to produce a French helium in short circuit by 2023″, says Nicolas Pelissier Messin, president and co-founder 45-8 Energy.
Most of you will start your business with plenty of passion and purpose, but all too often I see both disappearing after months of facing unanticipated setbacks and challenges. Indeed, it is even more critical that you keep your key team members energized with a high level of passion and purpose, or burnout rears its ugly head, putting the future of your whole business in jeopardy.
The challenge is to create positive recharge events for you and your team on a regular basis, rather than waiting for that one big success indicator, like record profits or going public, to override all the negative crises along the way. Here are some key initiatives from my own experience, which can make even the toughest business journey seem worthwhile and fun:
Prioritize and highlight many small wins along the way. A good way to start is to create and communicate bite-sized milestones toward your end objective, including product development stages, customer threshold targets, and funding achievements. Schedule all-hands events to celebrate each and get everyone’s batteries recharged.
These events can be as simple as a team pizza party for meeting development milestones, to an off-site adventure or concert to recognize progress and generate new team enthusiasm. Frequent small events are always better one large formal bash.
Give your business a higher purpose than just profit. These days, even customers look for businesses who create a social or environmental impact, and flock to support them. They feel the same passion that you and your team need to be reminded of on a regular basis to keep up the necessary level of energy, positivity, and commitment.
For example, Blake Mycoskie, founder of shoe company Toms, donates a pair one-for-one, keeps himself and his team recharged by sending employees to travel internationally and work directly in the field where the shoes are donated.
Focus everyone on the bigger paybacks than a paycheck. There is increasing evidence that employee happiness and job satisfaction, including yours, does not scale up with your success. Make sure that all of your business efforts create and capitalize on positive people relationships, personal growth, and matching people needs to results.
In addition, according to recent reports, the size of employee paychecks ranks behind advancement opportunities and work-life balance as the key reasons people are burned out with their job. Just think about what is important to you, and talk to them about it.
Maintain a balance between work and other life activities. Provide yourself and everyone some time to recharge, whether it be scheduled reward events, or just some time off for vacations and time with family. Remember that your well-being, and that of your team, should always come first, on the road to making your business a success.
Incent change, learning, and innovation as business norms. Nothing kills passion and purpose like a static environment. The business world is constantly changing around you, so you and your people need to do the same. Make sure your objectives and rewards motivate employees through innovation, and desired training and coaching.
Regularly reconnect and communicate your “why.” Every business was started to satisfy a need in the marketplace, and it pays to remind yourself and communicate to your team that purpose on a regular basis. Everyone is energized when they feel really needed, and that need can be easily lost in the day-to-day challenges of a business.
Your “why” is the emotional appeal of your business, and it can be as simple as Toms improving the lives of the less fortunate, to Airbnb’s effort to make every stay a unique and enjoyable experience. Don’t let you or your team forget it for a moment.
Give up expecting perfectionism in you and others. Stop penalizing yourself and others on the team for every less than perfect move, and relish the learning that normally comes from mistakes. Make it a habit to take pleasure from doing your best and helping others learn, rather than agonizing over business outcomes that are never good enough.
I’m convinced that most entrepreneurs and most teams are operating well below their fully-charged capacity most of the time. Feedback from employees indicates that only about one in five feels fully engaged and productive. Just think what your company could do if you and everyone worked at the level of passion and purpose you felt when you started the business.
*** First published on Inc.com on 05/29/2020 ***
The EnergySpin Business Accelerator program is back to identify and support the most disruptive innovations impacting the energy sector. Come and join the most unique energy multi-corporate accelerator in Europe, where the focus is on individual attention that enables you to leapfrog your startup to the next level.
EnergySpin is run on behalf of a number of corporates that contribute financially to the operations of the program, making it a multi-corporate accelerator. This gives corporate partners a chance to collaborate with the most innovative and promising startups in their specific fields to solve pressing challenges.
EnergySpin constantly works to establish and develop mutually beneficial cooperation between startups and their corporate partners. The corporate partners supporting EnergySpin include Wartsila, The Switch (a Yaskawa company), Danfoss, and VEO, among others. Moreover, the accelerator supports you with tailored input on growth planning, product development, commercialization, financing and marketing, and possible investment.
Apply by August 12 to participate in the Fall 2020 batch scheduled to begin in October.
Who Is Eligible To Apply
This opportunity is open to all startups in the energy sector, as well as startup enterprises in fields related to the energy sector, including digitalization, AI, IoT, Blockchain, cybersecurity, big data & advanced analytics, gamification, open data, and 5G. Your solutions can range from smart grids, power optimization, renewable energy, energy-saving & efficiency, energy storage, and future mobility.
In short, EnergySpin is looking for all innovative and disruptive solutions that enable a clean energy future.
Why Your Startup Should Apply
Irrespective of which stage of operations your startup is in, the EnergySpin Business Accelerator offers exciting opportunities for all:
- Pilot & test your solutions with corporate partners
- Network & receive mentorship from leading industry experts
- Participate in the unique industry cluster workshops
- Gain international exposure
- Advance your personal growth & development
The application is quick & easy and includes a description of your solution, various market opportunities, competitors, finances, and details about your team.
What Happens During The Program
From the beginning of the program, the startups will work with corporate partners on developing joint projects, from piloting and the Proof of Concept (PoC) to becoming customers and partners.
The EnergySpin accelerator is built as a 10-weeks full-time program established in Vassa, on the west coast of Finland.
Participants will need to be physically present only during specific weeks, when all the workshops, coaching sessions, and meetings happen. However, startups are encouraged to stay the entire 10-weeks to make full use of the premises and opportunities in this unique industry cluster.
Up to two members from each startup can attend the in-person events. Participation in the accelerator program is 100% fee-free.
The Program Timeline
After reviewing the applications, 30 startups are selected and invited, where they meet with corporate partners and mentors to probe the feasibility of the company and solution.
- Selection Days: 3 – 4 September 2020 (Virtual Event)
At the end of the Selection Days, up to 16 – 20 companies are handpicked by the partners to proceed to Phase 1 of the program.
- Accelerator Program Opening Days: 21 – 23 October 2020 (Virtual Event)
- Evaluation of proposition and product review
- Partner review
- Product Excellence & Partner Meetings: 26 – 30 October 2020 (at Vaasa Energy Cluster)
- Product excellence
- Investor expectations
- Go-to-market workshops
- B2B sales
- Problem finding and tailored-made solution
- Mentoring & coaching to prepare and support for partner meetings
- Partners Days: 28 – 29 October individual meetings with the Partners
- Teams’ Status Check: 16 – 19 November 2020 (Virtual Event)
- Go-to-Market & Investor Excellence: 7 – 11 December 2020 (in Vaasa) including individual Partner meetings
- Batch 5 Graduation will take place on 11 December 2020 in Vaasa.
Successful EnergySpin Alumni
Geyser Batteries develops a new energy storage mechanism that does not use lithium-ion batteries. Their products work up to 10-100 times when compared to traditional batteries and function steadily over longer durations. This makes them ideal for hybrid powertrains and long-term heavy-duty power grid systems. The Vaasa-based company currently caters to B2B customers in the transportation, industrial machinery, and power grid sectors.
This EnergySpin Business Accelerator alumni from the 2018 Spring batch received €1 million seed funding from Voima Ventures in 2019.
Instagrid develops an advanced portable power pack to replace highly polluting petrol and diesel generators. Their products offer simple, flexible, and emission-free access to grid-scale power for professionals on the move. The company was founded in 2018 and specializes in the development of portable battery equipment, offering a mobile power supply for people working in temporary locations.
This EnergySpin Business Accelerator alumni from the 2019 Fall batch received €8.5 million Series A funding led by SET Ventures in early 2020.
Ready To Spin Your Energy Solution Globally?
EnergySpin offers you a unique opportunity to get a real impression of the prospects of the Vaasa region energy cluster. Its international partner companies are looking for solutions that are ready to change the future of the energy sector. Are you ready to participate?
To take your startup to the next level, apply for the EngerySpin Accelerator now!
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CyberX, with its advanced analysis capabilities, protects the leading electricity and gas plants worldwide, especially the 5 energy companies in the US, against cyber hazards.
Read more here.
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