Urban Sky Raises $9.75 Million In Series A Funding To Expand Earth Imaging Operations


Denver-based stratospheric balloon company Urban Sky has successfully closed a $9.75 million Series A funding round. The investment will enable the company to scale its Earth imaging operations and develop its range of data products. Urban Sky has been generating significant revenue by conducting tasking missions for customers in the Rocky Mountain region. However, with the new financing, CEO Andrew Antonio intends to establish a routine catalogue of refreshed data over highly populated areas and other areas of interest for customers.

Key Takeaway

Urban Sky has raised $9.75 million in Series A funding to scale its Earth imaging operations. The company’s unique use of reusable microballoons, along with its focus on developing advanced sensors, sets it apart from other players in the industry. Urban Sky’s groundbreaking technology allows for significant cost reduction and improved image resolution, offering a competitive edge in the market.

Developing Advanced Sensors for Enhanced Imaging

Urban Sky primarily serves the environmental monitoring, insurance, and oil and gas industries. The company is also working on the development of additional sensors to expand its capabilities. In addition to the natural color optical images it currently offers, Urban Sky is creating sensors for near-infrared and long-wave infrared imagery. The latter, called HotSpot, has already been proven effective in real-time monitoring of wildfires as part of a NASA grant and Air Force support.

Reusable Microballoons Reducing Costs

Urban Sky stands out from other remote sensing companies that employ stratospheric balloons due to its innovative approach. The startup has developed reusable microballoons that can be deployed from the back of a standard pickup truck. This unique combination of reusability and mobile deployment significantly reduces costs. Antonio compares the company’s vision to SpaceX’s introduction of reusable rocket boosters, which revolutionized the launch industry.

Founding and Innovation

Urban Sky was founded in 2019 by CEO Andrew Antonio and CTO Jared Leidich. The two co-founders previously worked together at World View, a company focused on developing high-altitude stratospheric balloons for both remote sensing and space tourism. The idea for Urban Sky emerged during their collaboration on Paragon Space Development’s StratEx program. Inspired by the data collected during subsystem flight tests using GoPros attached to latex balloons, they recognized the potential for a small balloon architecture for remote sensing.

Driving Down Costs and Improving Image Resolution

Urban Sky has addressed the challenge of cost-effectiveness in balloon-based imaging by patenting a termination and descent mechanism that allows their microballoons to remain intact after missions. This breakthrough has enabled the company to achieve image costs of around $5-$10 per square kilometer at a resolution of 10 centimeters. In comparison, prominent Earth imaging company Maxar offers images at a lower resolution of 28 centimeters, typically priced at $20-$25 per square kilometer.

Investors and Future Plans

The Series A funding round was co-led by New Legacy Ventures, Lerer Hippeau, and Lavrock Ventures. Catapult Ventures, Union Labs VC, DA Ventures (a Denver Angels Affiliate), and TenOneTen Ventures also participated in the round. With this significant investment, Urban Sky will continue to advance its technology and expand its operations with the aim of becoming a leading player in the field of stratospheric imaging.

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