Starcopter advertises higher payloads, longer flight times and more durable batteries than the competition. It hasn’t been shown publicly yet.
The Braunschweig drone startup Starcopter has received its first seven-figure financing. The sponsor is the BraWo Capital Group, which invests in medium-sized companies nationwide. The drone manufacturer was founded in early 2017 by Henner Niebuhr and Lasse Fröhner during their studies. Even then, with a focus on drones, but initially without a concrete product idea, they researched aspects such as battery life and energy efficiency.
Building on this research, Starcopter began developing a drone three years ago. The company advertises this with the “world’s leading payload and flight time in its class”. According to EU guidelines, drones are divided into classes and regulated based on weight, flight altitude and other factors.
All components matched to each other
“Battery and drone are coordinated in several development loops,” says founder and managing director Henner Niebuhr in an interview with Gründerszene. They have focused on energy efficiency, which allows their drone to carry heavier loads and stay in the air longer. Battery wear is also said to be up to ninety percent lower than with comparable drones.
However, they have not yet given any specific information as to how they achieved this and what loads and running times are possible. Despite the existing patent, the company wants to keep these specifications secret for the time being. With the money from the financing, the nine-person team now wants to complete the product design, certify their drone for the EU market and prepare for production and market entry. It is planned for April 2024.
With their promise of high payloads, long flight times and low battery wear, they would particularly target corporate customers. Concrete areas of responsibility are, for example, inspections of power lines or deliveries. “Our drone makes long-haul flights significantly more economical,” says Niebuhr. You already have customers in mind, but the company did not want to give any precise information here either. However, the company has already ruled out the military use of its drones and will continue to do so in the future.
A business with pitfalls
With its focus on business customers, starcopter is entering a difficult market. Drone manufacturers are often dependent on a few large orders. During production, they usually pay in advance, which represents a major financial risk. If the buyer jumps off, not only is the profit lost, but the manufacturer bears some of the costs
The drone manufacturer Wingcopter, which announced a billion dollar deal with an investor from Ghana in May 2022, provides an example of the problem. Six months later, however, Welt reported the deal was shaky and Wingcopter was quietly removing all references to the project from its website.