Ehang, the developer of Indiegogo crowdfunding hit Ghost Drone, has raised $42 million USD in series B funding led by GP Capital with participation of existing investors GGV Capital, Zhen Fund, Lebox Capital and Oriental Fortune Capital.
Ehang did not disclose the valuation of this round, but indicates that it is 100 times that of 16 months ago when the startup was founded.
The money from this latest investment will go toward R&D for both personal and commercial drones, market expansion, and expanding the team. Hu Huazhi, the company’s founder and CEO, disclosed that the drone maker has welcomed four former managers from Chinese internet giants onboard recently.
The company’s flagship product the Ghost Drone is designed as an aerial photography drone outfitted with GoPro. Designed for ease-of-use, the Ghost can be controlled via a compatible mobile app instead of a radio controller, which can be cumbersome for beginners to use. A more convenient tilt control feature is integrated to allow the user to manually pilot the quadcopter by tilting and turning their phones.
Like its main competitor DJI, Ehang is planning to go beyond the territory of personal drones, which are mainly used for aerial photography and video, according to Hu. The startup plans to develop products designed for areas as diverses as agriculture & forestry, search and rescue, mapping, and logistics. Hu said a new flagship product is going to be launched in the second half of this year.
Driven by the global quadcopter craze, Ehang is among the most heavily funded Chinese competitors of DJI, which received a massive $75 million USD round earlier this year.
After receiving over $1 million USD from crowdfunding websites like Indiegogo ($850,000 USD) and its Chinese peers Demohour ($60,000 USD) and Taobao Crowdfunding (222,000 RMB), Ehang has landed a $10 million USD in A round at the end of last year.
The future looks bright for drone startups. According to a report by research institute EVTank, over 378k civil drones have been shipped in 2014, of which 33% are for professional customers and 67% are consumer grade drones. The global shipment is expected to surge 50% in 2015 and creates a $25.9 billion USD market by 2020.
Image Credit: Ehang