Speedbird Aero, a Brazilian startup that builds remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) equipment (aka drones) for commercial delivery, has just announced a BRL 35 million funding round. The investment was led by Bela Juju Ventures and followed by DOMO Invest and NAU Capital, which had already invested in the startup‘ Seed round.
The first Brazilian company to be certified by ANAC, Brazil’s equivalent of the F.A.A., to operate RPA for deliveries, Speedbird proposes that drones be seen as a new, viable and scalable logistics modal for deliveries for companies, logistics, and health services.
Founded in 2018 by Manoel Coelho and Samuel Salomão, the startup had been performing experimental flights for companies such as Ambev, iFood, and Natura, among others. With ANAC certification, which attests to the safety of the drones built by Speedbird, the company started offering the so-called DaaS service (Drone as a Service).
The certification allows Speedbird to fly its drones anywhere in Brazil, according to ANAC rules – at this moment drones cannot fly over areas with high concentration of people, for example.
Now certified, and funded by Series A, Speedbird is preparing to start manufacturing and offering services on a larger scale, expand its customer base, and reach 250 drones in its fleet by the end of 2023. The startup aims to create an “ecosystem of logistics via RPA” that generates jobs, helps to develop new businesses, and supports companies in the delivery of goods.
According to Coelho, Speedbird’s CEO, the idea is for drones to operate as a complementary modal to low-impact delivery services, such as electric vehicles or bicycles. For food delivery, possibly Speedbird’s largest potential market, Coelho explained that by operating as a complementary modal to motorcycles or bikes, the company will be helping delivery workers to make more deliveries on less risky routes.
“It’s what we call a win-win situation. We create more jobs and support those professionals who work in other modals. And this is precisely one of Speedbird’s purposes,” he said.
It can be said that Speedbird is pioneering the drone delivery market in Brazil, from the regulatory to the technological and operational aspects. “We are creating a market practically from scratch in Brazil,” Coelho said.
With no rivals so far, Speedbird has seen consistent growth. Since 2020, the number of employees jumped from four to 45 to handle the manufacturing of three distinct RPA models: DLV-1, DLV-2, and DLV-4, with capabilities to carry loads of up to 3, 8, and 5 kilograms, within a radius of 3, 7, and 50 kilometers, respectively.
Having 50 routes in operation, the company plans to create at least 100 jobs for flight operators, in addition to the entire support team, engineering, manufacturing, software, maintenance, and professionals for the administrative, sales, human resources, and marketing areas.