13 Feb 2015
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US FAA approved drone company Aeronavics to crowd fund up to $1.5 million

By Pattrick Smellie

Aeronavics, a Waikato-based drone company with one of only two US Federal Aviation Authority permissions to be used for filming, is looking to raise up to $1.5 million via equity crowd funding as it shifts from an airframes supplier to offering fully built products in the growing remotely piloted aerial systems market.

The Raglan-based company is looking for a minimum of $750,000 to secure funds over the next month, offering shares at $1 apiece with a minimum investment of $1,000 via the Snowball Effect crowd funding platform. So far 84 investors have pledged $534,250 since it launched yesterday evening, of which $414,500 was from pre-committed investors.

Areonavics, which is valued at $8.5 million, is hoping to lure investors with the promise of capturing a foothold in the $11 billion drone market, and already boast big name US customers, including NASA, Disney and Dreamworks. The company used to ship airframes under its Droidworx brand, with customers modifying the frameworks to their needs, but it is now focusing on selling branded end products into the market.

Last year the company became one of only two drone systems to be granted FAA exemption to be used for film and television work in Hollywood. At the time Aeronavics director Linda Bulk, who co-owns the four-year-old company with husband Rob Brouwer, told BusinessDesk publicity over the FAA decision had sparked demand for its SkyJib 8 engine craft and the company would be looking at capital raising with private investors.

"We've had an influx of inquiries and there's a lot of potential revenue but we are now really stretched. Everything requires energy and investment. The interest is far beyond what the company can digest," she said last October.

The company was originally started in Australia before the couple moved to New Zealand. It started out producing multi-rotor airframes now used worldwide for aerial photography, film-making, and agricultural and industrial applications and later expanded to become a one-stop-shop, selling ready-to-use UAVs as well as the airframes.

The company made a pre-tax profit of $62,428 in the year ended Mar. 31 on $1.83 million worth of sales, according to its offer documents. It expects to make a loss of $77,382 in the 2015 financial year, with sales to fall to $1 million. It currently has a negative equity of $45,393 and its current assets are worth $416,594. The company doesn't provide earlier financial details, but says to date it has over $5 million in sales.

On a conservative calculations the company expects its pre-tax profit to grow to $2.6 million by 2020, with sales to rise to $17.4 million, while its most aggressive case sees earnings climb to $20 million on $100 million in sales in five years.

Bulk and Brouwer are offering between 8.1 percent and 15 percent of the company via the Snowball offer, which closes on March 15.

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