Greeting from the Founders
Kotaro Chiba, Co-Founder
What can I do when I want to realize an industrial revolution in the sky?
I launched DRONE FUND in 2017, believing that our fund would give opportunities for many entrepreneurs to change the world.
When we launched the first fund, there was some skepticism about a venture capital dedicated to drones, but now that we have launched the third fund, we feel that our team’s role in this specific area is becoming crucial. We have invested in nearly 60 startups to date, one of which was the first drone company to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It can be said that we have played an important role in cultivating the drone industry, which the Japanese government expects to be game changing.
Today, the number of members has increased significantly and specialists from various fields have gathered to establish the position of the leading venture capital firm in the drone and air mobility industry in the world.
DRONE FUND operates a community called “Chiba Dojo,” where portfolio companies and LPs get together and discuss the direction of the industry as a whole and their own growth strategies with the aim of creating a startup ecosystem. In particular, at a semi-annual camp called “Chiba Dojo Drone Club,” where DRONE FUND portfolio companies gather, we aim to build relationships where we can share our challenges as business owners, discuss the challenges of the industry as a whole, understand each other’s personalities, and collaborate. Our motto is to collaborate and compete with each other while sharing a sense of how to survive and grow in a (still) small market, and how it is impossible to create an industry on its own.
I also wanted to deepen my insight into the sky, so I purchased the first HondaJet and obtained a pilot’s license in 2020, and have been training my flight skills since then. In developing a resolution to the aviation industry, there is no better way to learn than to fly.
The fact that we have been able to rapidly launch our first three funds in four years with a total of 17.3 billion yen is due to the fact that many large companies and investors have followed us because they truly believe in the revolution of the sky industry. In addition, we believe that it was the collective strength of the “DRONE FUND Family” startups that transcends borders and backgrounds.
Since the third fund, we have been promoting the social implementation of drone and air mobility as a “public-private integrated industry creation fund,” targeting the lifting of the ban on Level 4 (fully autonomous) drones in 2022 and the start of commercial use of flying vehicles at the Osaka Expo in 2025. We will push forward with social implementation toward a “drone and air mobility-based society” at a rapid pace!
Soki Ohmae, Co-Founder
Infrastructure that is indispensable to modern society, such as electrical facilities, water supply, roads and bridges, and agricultural products, have been produced and maintained by human power until now. However, we are now approaching a turning point where we are reaching our limits.
For example, the collapse of a water pipe bridge in Musota, Wakayama City (October 3, 2021), the damage in the suspension of the bridge could not be detected because it was in a location where it could not be visually confirmed. In Japan, a lot of the current infrastructure was built during the postwar economic growth (1950-70), there is no time to spare in considering how to deal with this aging infrastructure. However, there is a critical shortage of talented engineers who can tackle this safety issue due to the declining working population. We have entered an era in which society cannot be sustained by human power alone.
To solve this problem, we believe that technology that can cooperate with humans in tasks, including autonomous robots, is needed. We need faster, better, cheaper, and safer ways to solve problems in all technological areas. These solutions include drones, aquatic robots, and ground-based robots.
We also believe in the potential of “air mobility” as a new transportation for society. Cities around the world are becoming overpopulated, and there is limited room for roads to be built. In such an environment, the needs of air mobility as transportation is growing. In Japan, the challenge is to create a future in which people can travel between urban areas and adjacent rural areas by car in 30 minutes, instead of two hours, which would allow for urban planning on a larger scale. It may seem surprising, but Japan is a large country (61 out of 197 countries), and living areas are spread throughout the country, from remote islands to mountainous areas. The use of the sky as a means of transportation has the potential to enrich Japanese life.
We at DRONE FUND believe that the development of the drone and air mobility industry is the key to solving not just Japan’s, but also the world’s social problems. We believe that rapid development is needed not only in the development of autonomous robots, but also in peripheral technologies that will enable these technologies to be implemented, produced and managed. Moreover, the urban infrastructure should be well prepared to welcome those autonomous robots. Thus, there is a need to support start-ups that develop those new technologies. We aim to create a drone-air mobility based society together with you.
Our Vision, Mission, and Values
We are a VC specialized in the field of drone & air mobility.
Through our investments, we aim to realize a society in which drones and air mobility-based technologies are implemented in our daily lives.
Our investors who support our vision
DRONE FUND established its first fund in May 2017 with the vision of ‘a drone-based society’, where drones solve society’s problems and help create a better future. The first fund invested in drone manufacturers and startups that provide solutions using drones.
In the second fund, we updated our vision to ‘a drone and air mobility-based society’ and expanded the scope of investment to the air mobility domain for personal mobility.
For the third fund, established in May 2020, we accelerated investment in technologies essential to the implementation of our vision.
In addition to the air, we have expanded our investments to ground- and aquatic-based technologies to realize a future where robotics are active all around the world.
Values we create
DRONE FUND believes that empowering the community can also benefit all stakeholders, including portfolio companies and investors.
With our highly specialized team, we provide various forms of support, such as public policy activities and returns to each community member.
Although there are no other specialized venture capital funds in Japan nor overseas with a similar concept, we have a proven track record in terms of fund performance, with our first fund returning approximately 85.2% in 4 years and being selected as the third best VC performance fund in Japan.
Our fund size has grown rapidly from the first fund (established in June 2017) raising 1.59 billion yen, to the third fund, raising 10.519 billion yen.
Drone Market Forecast
As the market for drones grows, drones are continuously working their way into even more industries. As drones enter these new industries, the need for better drone technology and regulation forces improvements in the technology. This cyclical growth system is one piece of what is driving the impressive growth of the drone industry.
More and more industries are embracing drones as new solution providers and the global market for drones is increasing almost daily.
We at Drone Fund understand the unbelievable potential drones offer and recognize drones as the next step in not only improving industry, but also humanity.