This post originally appeared on https://medium.com/lightspeed-venture-partners/kespry-the-best-drone-company-youve-never-heard-of-7ffabdec34a9.
[Editor’s Note: Kespry announced their $16 million Series B yesterday.]
Kespry is a special company even if its flying below the radar. Today, I’m excited to talk more about the company as Kespry announces its $16M Series B — Enterprise Drone Maker Kespry Closes $16 Million Round With New FAA Regulations In Sight — led by DCM and Jason Krikorian and also with an investment from Spectrum 28 and continued support from Lightspeed.
When Lightspeed invested in early 2014, the opportunity for commercial drones wasn’t much more than a big, gray idea. (Remember, this was pre Jeff Bezos going on 60 Minutes and telling the world all of our packages would one day be delivered by drones.) The opportunity was to invest behind a world class group of young entrepreneurs who believed a market would emerge for commercial drones.
Equally important was the shared vision that the only way to penetrate an emerging market is to offer customers the complete solution. In this case that meant hardware, software, data, imagery and analytics. No way we’d win selling pizza crust (just the OS or the airframe or the analysis on imagery).
Early adopters in a market where a behavior change is required are NOT interested in cobbling together various pieces to try a new solution. The belief of everyone involved at Kespry was to build something with a magnificent user experience out of the box. Sound familiar? That titan of the tech world base in Cupertino, CA, does this better than anyone.
All Series A startups have the same three initial obstacles:
- Recruit a team of people almost as crazy as the founders who believe in the vision and can deliver an initial product.
- Identify the beachhead use case that allows the company to get the product in market and iterate on that last 20% of the functionality required to win the heart of the customer.
- Prior to Series B, establish reference customers who can speak to the unique merits of the solution and represent early data points on how the business model will work. Kespry knocked it out of the park on all three.
The engineering and early sales/biz dev team at Kespry is among the best we’ve ever seen. The amount of intellectual horsepower is off the charts and its combined with the creativity and grit it takes to build a company that changes the world.
When we first invested in Kespry the possible use cases were scarily vast. We had inbound requests from agriculture providers, construction companies, insurers, materials vendors, and my favorite — resort providers (never lose a golf ball again they said!).
As with any startup that sells a platform or “horizontal” offering this gluttony of choices is both a blessing and a curse. The vision and ability to dominate all of these verticals was squarely in the plan for Kespry, but to attempt all simultaneously would be certain death. Paris for Kespry was clear — one drone to rule them all — but the most critical question early on was “Where is our Normandy?” The Kespry team did what all truly great entrepreneurs do in the early days. They guessed. They experimented. They iterated. They experimented more. Then, with imperfect information, they bet the company on one use case and ran as hard and as fast as they could. And they were right.
Unlike the vast majority of early stage Silicon Valley startups, Kespry has spent very little on marketing or PR since its inception. The team, not being big believers in vaporous pre-revenue press releases, has focused entirely on execution and meeting (exceeding) the Series A milestones.
With more than 100 customers, millions in revenue, and several dozens field units in production Kespry is the clear leader in the commercial drone space.
We are thrilled to have Jason join the board and have Spectrum 28 as part of the team since both firms bring specialized expertise that will be tremendously helpful in building Kespry. They both have experience with international expansion and understand the opportunities and challenges of “full stack” (hardware and software) businesses like Kespry.
No doubt competitors will pivot their business models to copy Kespry. All great ideas get cloned.
And so in the end, it will be about execution and maintaining leadership in a rapidly evolving ecosystem that determines the winner. We are certain the prize at the end of this fight will be very significant. And with this team, we couldn’t be more excited to tackle the challenge.
*You can read more about Kespry’s news today over here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160621006102/en/Kespry-Closes-16-Million-Series-Fast-Growing-Commercial.