Investors Pump Money into Drone Developer Identified Technologies-Project Olympus - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Investors Pump Money into Drone Developer Identified Technologies

A three-year-old developer of drones has marked a 20 percent business boost each month since last September.

So when Identified Technologies Corp.’s Founder and CEO Dick Zhang told his investors that a fundraising round was necessary so the startup could hire to keep up the pace, they proposed a different strategy.

“The company is growing super-fast, and we didn’t want Dick to takes his eye off business and waste time fundraising, which in today’s market takes six to nine months for a follow-through round,” said Ned Renzi, a partner at Birchmere Ventures. “So we funded it internally.”

Investors who staked Identified Technologies with $2 million in spring 2015 jointly pumped another $1.5 million into the young company. In addition to Birchmere, they include SWAT Capital, Xalisco Ventures, Startbot and angel investor Mark Zappala, Zhang confirmed.This brings the total raised by ITC to $3.5 million.

The money enables ITC to add two posts immediately and to ramp up the present staff of 15 to 22 by year-end as the young company’s footprint is extending nationally.

“It takes people to manage growth and manage customers,” Zhang said.

Based in East Liberty, ITC is the developer of an uninterrupted and unmanned aerial system that collects visual, infrared and gas data. It licenses flight control technology from the University of Pittsburgh.

“What’s been fortunate is the industry is becoming more educated about the technology and its potential, and I attribute that to luck and timing,” Zhang said.

But the downturn in the energy sector also boosted opportunities for ITC.

“In a weird way, it’s been a tough economy for the oil and gas and energy space in general, and that’s a big part of our customer base,” Renzi said. “Our product saves them a ton of money. They’re looking for ways to cut costs and improve performance, and we do both. We’re getting very good traction there and in the construction space.”

ITC builds and lease drones aimed at helping construction projects stay on track and on budget by providing 3-D project maps. Its product Boomerang flies above job sites, captures mapping data and then lands itself on a dock station that remains at the client’s site throughout the project. The dock station sends the data to the cloud for processing and customer analysis and also charges the drone’s batteries.

Locally, ITC has worked with EQT Corp., Seneca Resources Corp. and Mascaro Construction, which is serving as general contractor on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Center in Butler, Zhang said.

A year ago, most of ITC’s work was within a three-hour drive of Pittsburgh. That’s changed.

“Our reach has expanded south to Florida, north to Boston and we’re doing a bunch of work in Texas and Oklahoma,” Zhang said. Read more»