Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban Invests $300,000 in DART Drones

Mark Cuban expanded his portfolio of drone companies with a $300,000 investment in Massachusetts-based drone startup DARTdrones.  Cuban wasted no time as he stepped in before the others could reach a final decision.

Abby Speicher, CEO of DARTdrones, appeared on the hit ABC show to ask for $300,000 in exchange for 10% of her company.  Although the valuation concerned some of the Sharks, Cuban was undeterred and met Speicher’s asking price with a quick deal.  Although episodes air throughout the year, Shark Tank does its filming during the summer.  At that time, DARTdrones had already generated upwards of $500,000 in revenue, a number which has likely grown significantly since then, especially considering last summer’s Part 107 announcement by the FAA and its subsequent Remote Pilot Certification rush.

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Dronegenuity founder Dan Edmonson is a former classmate of Speicher at Babson College’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business and worked for DARTdrones in 2016, where he drew his inspiration to start Dronegenuity.  While there, he created curriculum, taught an online course, and developed an appreciation for the power of professional aerial photography.   

Sharks Love Drones

This isn’t the first time the Sharks unanimously embraced a drone business.  The last drone business to appear on Shark Tank, xCraft, struck a preliminary deal on the show with each of the five investors who were present: Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, and Daymond John.  The business, headquartered in Idaho and founded by J.D. Claridge and Charles Manning offered a drone that claimed to fly at up to 60mph and achieve an (highly illegal) elevation of 10,000 feet above ground level. The company also had a prototype in the works for a product that promised to turn any smartphone into a drone itself.  Like DARTdrones, xCraft had already achieved a modicum of success prior to the filming of the episode, selling $173,000 worth of pre-orders through its website and Kickstarter campaign.

The five Sharks each contributed $300,000 for what would have been respective stakes of 5%, but the deal apparently fell apart in the months that followed the airing of the show.

Cuban’s Budding Drone Empire

Earlier this year Cuban participated in a seed round of funding for an Israeli developer of hardware and software that could assist drones with computer vision processes such as obstacle avoidance.  Percepto raised $1 million in the round that also included former Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons and Chinese angel investor Xu Xiaoping. It isn’t clear whether Cuban sees any potential synergies between the two companies or if Cuban is even done investing in other drone businesses on his way to building an empire.  

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About the Author

Adam Shore

Adam is a Central Florida alum who recently left the Orlando area to relocate to Denver, where he enjoys shooting aerial photography of the Rocky Mountains. And to ski. He is a member of the AMA and was been a drone photographer since the early days of the industry. Follow him @dronegenuity.