In a sizable show of support for its drone delivery plans, startup Flirtey Inc. has raised $16 million in its initial major venture capital funding.
The Series A led by Menlo Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures and included Lowercase Capital, Y Combinator and World Innovation Lab. Founded in 2013, Flirtey is attempting to reinvent the delivery process for humanitarian, online retail and food delivery industries by delivering a service designed to be faster and more efficient than traditional delivery methods.
The company made headlines in December 2016 when it teamed with convenience store giant 7-Eleven to make 77 deliveries via drone to customers in Reno. In what was initially a trial, Flirtey and 7-Eleven announced that they intended to expand their drone delivery operations in 2017, using delivery drones that have a container and are flown autonomously using precision GPS to the customer’s house. In that trial, all of the customers who used the drone delivery service said they would continue to do so as operations expand.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Menlo Ventures Managing Director Mark A. Siegel said his firm is interested in drone tech and services because the technology is poised to transform multiple industries. “In delivery, we think that at scale drones will be the most efficient and lowest cost mode of transport for small packages that require time sensitivity – think medical supplies, fast food and on-demand e-commerce,” Siegel said.
Flirtey competes directly with San Francisco-based Zipline Inc., which in addition to designing delivery drones successfully deployed the world’s first medical drone delivery service in October. Washington, D.C.-based Measure Aero Inc., for its part, bills itself as a “drone-as-a-service” company.
It’s not clear how much Flirtey has raised to date as an earlier round in 2015 was not disclosed. Excluding that round, the total amount raised sits at $16.04 million, according to Crunchbase.
The company said it would use the new funding to expand market adoption in the U.S., New Zealand and later in Asia.