Fleet Announces $5 Million Series A Round led by Blackbird Ventures

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Fleet has raised AU$5 million in a Series A round led by Blackbird Ventures, with contributions from Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, James Schultz from Earth Space Robotics, and Horizon Partners. The Australian nanosatellite startup had previously raised AU$75,000 in seed funding.

Founded in 2015 by aerospace engineers Flavia Tata Nardini and entrepreneur Matt Pearson, Fleet is building nanosatellites to connect sensors and low-bandwidth devices to the internet.

Our goal is to provide free internet connectivity to devices and sensors that are compatible with the Fleet network, particularly in locations where the "tyranny of distance" is preventing businesses from using devices such as mining plants or farms in rural or regional areas.

"Farmers, environmentalists, mining and oil engineers, and logistics professionals will all greatly benefit from the data and opportunities a switched-on planet produces," Tata Nardini said in a statement.

"Our goal is for industries to use this technology to make real, tangible efficiency improvements to the ways they operate and address issues, be it measuring the effect of climate change on outer corners of the great barrier reef, or tracking important cargo like aid as it journeys across the Indian Ocean."

Tata Nardini said that while the Australian government is creating policies to facilitate innovation, there is very little talk of space.

"Australia is one of the largest economies in the world to not have its own space agency. Projects like this are crucial to our future as they test our creativity and ability to think big. If we're not always asking what's next, we'll never really have a place in the innovation game," she said.

Cannon-Brookes, who has his own VC firm Grok Ventures in addition to backing Blackbird, classified Fleet as one of those "rare" ideas that "gets the adrenaline pumping."

"Fleet answers one of modern society's most difficult but important questions: How do we bring all the devices and technology we've created together to work as one?" Cannon-Brookes said in a statement.

Matthew Pearson