Drone Startup Skygauge Offers More and in Doing so Closes $2.5 Million in Funding

By Bruce Harpham Sunday, December 27, 2020

Skygauge, a drone startup based in Canada, recently closed $3.3 million CAD ($2.57 million USD) million in funding. The seed round included Hello Ventures, BDC Capital's Industrial Innovation Venture Funding, and RiSC Capital's HAX accelerator. Before this round, the company had received $250,000 in pre-seed funding from HAX's Seed program. The company was started in 2016 by CEO Nikita Iliushkin, designer Linar Ismagilov, and CTO Maksym Korol.

The HAX accelerator program is focused on hardware technology rather than software. Operating out of San Francisco, Shenzhen, and San Francisco, the program provides each company with a $250,000 investment and six months of close support. Other companies participating in the HAX program include Volstorage (battery technology), Unspun (custom made jeans), and Bold Diagnostics (cuffless blood pressure monitoring). Early-stage hardware startups can apply for the HAX seed program up to December 31, 2020.

How Skygauge Robotics Approaches the Market

Skygauge was co-founded in 2016 by CEO Nikita Iliushkin, chief designer and inventor Linar Ismagilov, and CTO Maksym Korol. The company is based in Toronto and Hamilton, two large cities in the Canadian province of Ontario. The company's current strategy is to focus on industrial applications for drones rather than consumers. Skygauge Robotics plans to sell its drones to customers in three main categories: refineries, offshore facilities, and wind turbines.

The Founding Team’s Strong Engineering Background

Nikita Iliushkin previously worked in business development at PATIO Interactive and holds a business degree from York University. Linar Ismagilov also worked at PATIO Interactive where he worked on 3D printers, CNC machines, and other prototype designs. Ismagilov earned a degree in mechanical engineering from York University. Before joining Skygauge, Maksym Korol earned a degree in mechanical engineering at McMaster University and worked at Lakeside Process Controls.

How Skygauge Plans To Grow Their Team

At this time, Skygauge is made up of its founding team members. With its new funding in place, Skygauge's founders plan to hire for multiple engineering and business development positions. Also, Skygaughe plans to obtain a new lab and company location to develop its products.

How Skygauge Drones Are Different

The company's drones are designed to operate differently from other products on the market. The company plans to use its drones for pressure washing, welding, construction, and painting tasks in the long term. Consumer-oriented drones are typically equipped with a camera. The Skygauge drone has additional hardware to make inspections easier. The company's drone includes a D790-SM dual transducer to measure both paint and metal thickness. The drone also has a thrust vectoring joint, which means that drone operators can control the machine with precision while gathering data.

As of early December, Skygauge has ten units available for early adopter orders. The company offers training and support to help customers learn drone operating techniques and ultrasonic testing methods. Skygauge does not disclose the price for its drone kits.

The Skygauge drone package gives customers more than a drone. The preorder package includes a drone with an integrated Olympus 38DL and a 4K Camera. The kit includes a transport case, remote control, four battery packs, a battery charger, and a maintenance toolkit.

Competition From Other Industrial Drone Companies

Skygauge isn't the only company advancing technology in the industrial drone market. In contrast, Zipline is focused on building drones to deliver medical supplies to remote areas.

Zipline has $251 million in funding and was founded in 2014. RIEGL (estimated $21 million in annual revenue) focuses on building LIDAR sensors and systems — a critical component for drone navigation.

The Fast-Growing $5 Billion Commercial Drone Market

The global commercial drone market was worth $5.8 billion in 2018, according to Grand View Research. There are three popular commercial applications for drones. The photography and filming drones, a segment worth over $1.8 billion, are used in movie filming, journalism, and event filming. Drones are also being used for inspections in the energy and gas industries.
Finally, some drones are being used in precision agriculture to monitor crops on farms (find out more: Drone Technology Takes Off for US Farmers). The United States is a leading commercial drone market because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued regulations that clarify how drones can be used. By 2025, the commercial drone market is forecast to grow to $125 billion.

About the Author

Headshot for author Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book "Project Managers At Work" shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

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