Silicon Valley VCs raise millions for an Aussie drone mapping startup

Propeller Aero founders, Rory San Miguel and Francis Vierboom.


In 2014 Rory San Miguel and Francis Vierboom made a bet that not all drone companies would actually need to fly drones, and it seems to be paying off.

On Wednesday their company Propeller Aero, which transforms data captured by drones into survey-grade 3D maps for mining and construction sites, announced it had raised a $3.1 million (A$4 million) funding round.

As well as local venture capital firm Blackbird Ventures, U.S. players Accel Partners and Costanoa Venture Capital have also signed on.

Based in Sydney, the pair founded the startup after meeting as cofounders at Flirtey, the headline-grabbing drone delivery company now based in the U.S. Following a A$1 million round in 2015, the startup now plans to focus on hiring more creative people to boost its existing team of 17.

The original idea stemmed from the fact drones are still a complicated, frustrating thing to use in big business, San Miguel told Mashable. “The reason is not necessarily because of the hardware or regulations, and more to do with the huge amount of data they create that’s hard to manipulate with existing tools.”

While drones can gather reams of detailed data, it’s not necessarily accurate or in a useful format.

“All these end customers, they expect data that’s accurate or more accurate than existing methods,” he explained. “Propellor is about making the data as easy to use and accurate as possible.”

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