Israeli startup Percepto, which develops autonomous industrial drones, has announced the completion of a $15 million financing round. The round was led by US investment fund USVP, with participation from existing investors US fund Spider Capital, Israeli fund Emerge, and South Korean find NHN. Percepto has raised a total of $27.5 million since it was founded.
Percepto was founded in 2014 by CEO Dor Abuhasira; Raviv Raz, who has experience at Israel Aerospace Industries in developing UAVs; Sagi Blonder; and Ariel Avitan. The company has 60 employees: most of them in its offices in Modi'in and the rest in the US and Australia. The money raised is designated for hiring dozens more workers, mainly in Israel.
Percepto's customers are corporations in energy, gas, mining, and heavy industry. Percepto now has customers in over 10 countries, including Italian electric company ENEL. Percepto also provides services to its strategic partners: international security company G4S and US concern Johnson Controls.
"We discovered that large industrial and energy companies have a need to monitor what happens on their premises in order to make sure that there are no malfunctions," Abuhasira explains to "Globes." "We enable them to operate a drone without having an operator in the vicinity. We provide information from the air that comes from different types of sensors. This method has made it possible to substantially lower the cost of using drones.
"This enables these organizations to use drones in a completely different way. A drone was an end-user tool used only in very extreme cases. It has now become the day-in, day-out eyes of the site managers for routine security and standard testing."
Percepto develops the software that makes it possible to gather and analyze data collected from the drones. It also produces the drones themselves. Both production and development take place in Israel. The company operates on the leasing model, renting out a drone to its customers and a periodic license for the software it developed. Abuhasira did not disclose the company's revenue, but said that it was "significant revenue."
According to Abuhasira, the company produces its drones by itself, both in order to make sure that the hardware supports its computer vision functions and because there is a "need for durable drones. They are outside and circulate in the field for years, and we haven't found an existing drone that meets our standards."
The partners developed the idea for the company in 2013, when online sale of parts for building drones began. "My partners and I built drones by ourselves on weekends as a hobby. When were on a ski holiday, we really wanted a drone to photograph us on the site when we were skiing. We realized that the existing drones lacked all sorts of capabilities that we, as development people, could add to them. We started meeting with potential customers, we raised a little money, and we founded the company with the idea of a product for end consumers," Abuhasira says.
Later, the company began contacting business customers, rather than private ones. "We realized that with computer vision, artificial intelligence, and cheap drones, you can get a lot more, but enabling customers to use them requires a platform that they didn't have to give them support and insights. So we decided to become a company that provides an end-to-end solution. The hardware has costs and the market is new, so it takes a lot of money to reach it, but this market that we're opening is growing astronomically," Abuhasira says.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 22, 2019
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