- A South African aerospace startup, Cloudline, has raised $6 million in seed funding to lead the global advancement of autonomous flight with zero carbon emissions.
- Schmidt Futures led the round, while other investors, including Raba Partnership, Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures, and 4Di, took part.
- Spencer Horne (CEO) founded Cloudline in 2017 to develop a transportation system connecting remote communities to the global supply chain by delivering large payloads using lighter-than-air technology.
According to the aerospace startup, it is building a network of autonomous airships that redefines the delivery of goods and services globally.
The South African aerospace startup has since developed autonomous airships as a cost-effective substitute for drones, helicopters, and satellites. These airships are said to capture real-time data in the most inaccessible and economically challenging locations by leveraging their range, endurance, and efficiency.
While the startup began commercial operations in South Africa after receiving regulatory approval, Horne reveals that it will expand into Namibia and Mozambique before entering global markets.
Horne's interest in this field dates back to his early years. During his two years at McKinsey, where he developed his professional network, he travelled extensively and acquired invaluable experience that gave him insight into the difficulties faced in Africa.
His work in Kenya and Uganda demonstrated the significant impact of infrastructure on people's lives.
Cloudline operates in a relatively uncompetitive market due to its hardware-centric approach.
Horne highlights that Cloudline's early-mover advantage gives the startup a competitive edge, even though other drone operators may face competition if they plan to enter the airship market within the autonomous aerial infrastructure space.
He also revealed that in 2023, Cloudline's revenue increased fourfold, and the startup expects growth in 2024 thanks to the acquisition of multiple new multi-million dollar enterprise contracts.
What’s more, in a 2021 interview, Cloudline's Chief Revenue Officer, Yaniv Gelnik, revealed that the Kenyan Innovation Authority invited Cloudline to present its technology at Kenya Innovation Week. He also said that Ghana's Ministry of Agriculture is actively promoting its solution.
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