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Wingcopter expands to US, develops next-gen drone with $22M in funding

Wingcopter expands to US, develops next-gen drone with $22M in funding

In a series-A funding round, the German drone start-up Wingcopter raised $22M to expand its operations to the US market and to develop the next-gen drone technology. Since its founding in 2017, the company has come a long way with its in-house developed and built Wingcopter 178 cargo drone.

Wingcopter expands to the US, develops next-gen drone with $22M in funding

The Wingcopter 178 cargo drone is a fixed-wing drone that has the ability to vertically take-off and land by use of its patented tilt-rotor design. Fixed-wing drones are more efficient and can travel greater distances with the same amount of energy. The Wingcopter 178 combines these benefits with the ability to land and take off from almost anywhere. The Wingcopter 178 can travel up to 75 miles and reach speeds of up to 100 mph while carrying payloads of up to 13 pounds.

Silicon Valley VC Xplorer Capital and the German growth fund Futury Regio Growth are behind the series A funding round. Up till now, Wingcopter was able to sustain and grow its business with the help of money from friends and family as well as revenues.

In an interview, Wingcopter CEO and founder Tom Plümmer explained that he addition of an SV-based investor is particularly important to the startup, since it’s in the process of preparing its entry into the U.S., with plans for an American facility, both for flight testing to satisfy FAA requirements for operational certification, as well as eventually for U.S.-based drone production, reports TechCrunch.

Wingcopter has been active in various parts of the world. The company has helped Unicef to deliver vaccines to remote areas of Vanuatu. In Tanzania, Wingcopter has been involved in the delivery of medical supplies. In Ireland, Wingcopter was involved in delivering insulin beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS).

Plümmer realized that running Wingcopter as a service would bring more steady streams of revenue, while at the same time being able to better serve the needs of its customers.

“We learned during this process, through applying for permission, receiving these permissions and working now in five continents in multiple countries, flying BVLOS, that actually operating drones is something we are now very good at,” he said. This was actually becoming a really good source of income and ended up actually making up more than half of our revenue at some point. Also looking at scalability of the business model of being an OEM, it’s kind of [ … ] linear.”

Wingcopter expands to US, develops next-gen drone with $22M in funding

Wincopter CEO and co-founder Tom Plümmer.

Plümmer added that:

“We were really lucky to bootstrap over the last four years,” Plümmer said. “Basically, just by selling drones and creating revenue, we could employ our first 30 employees. But at some point, you realize you want to really plan with that revenue, so you want to have monthly revenues, which generally repeat like a software business — like software as a service.”

For the expansion to the US market, Wingcopter is very focused on the drone delivery business, but Plümmer points out that there is no reason why its drones would not be suitable for drone inspections or observations.

During the Coronvairus pandemic, drones have shown their added value by helping to monitor social distancing, delivering vaccines, and other urgent medical supplies to people in need. it will be interesting to see what Wingcopter will do in the US.

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Photo credits: Wingcopter and Jonas Wresch

Haye Kesteloo

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