Lift Off!: DVN syndicate helps launch the ‘satellite of the future’ with ICEYE investment

May 2018: DVN Syndicate in ICEYE

ICEYE builds the world’s first microsatellite SAR: Unprecedented availability of reliable and timely Earth Observation data

Draper Venture Network member funds join forces once again, this time with Draper Nexus, Draper Associates, and Draper Esprit co-investing in ICEYE’s $34M Series B.

The Finland-based company, which is democratizing the Earth Observation (EO) industry through its synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellites, recently became the first organization in the world to launch a sub-100kg SAR satellite. With darkness or clouds covering two-thirds of the planet at any given time, SAR technology delivers reliable imaging even when optical imaging cannot. By providing constant and timely imaging data, ICEYE is helping solve some of the toughest challenges for both governments and commercial entities.

The syndication originally formed in 2016 when Tim Draper (Draper Associates) introduced ICEYE’s superstar co-founders to Q Motiwala, Managing Director at Draper Nexus. Both funds participated in ICEYE’s Series A round, and were impressed by the company’s progress.

Q Motiwala of Draper Nexus sharing with DVN Member Funds Draper Nexus’ latest deals and focus areas at the annual GP Spring Forum

For the Series B, Tim and Q looked to bring in DVN’s Western European member fund Draper Esprit, as Esprit had been eyeing investments in the space-tech sector and ICEYE happened to be in their (relative) backyard. At April’s DVN GP Spring Forum, an annual gathering where Draper Network member funds learn about each other’s latest deals, the three funds were able to confer on the fast-growing company. Draper Esprit’s Stuart Chapman and Vinoth Jayakumar realized that they had an opportunity to back a true innovator that was changing the way Earth observation data is gathered, analyzed, and delivered.

“Coming together with our sister funds, Draper Associates and Draper Nexus, we are excited to be backing the team at ICEYE, exploring new frontiers with affordable micro-satellite SAR imaging; democratising access to reliable earth observation data,” said Stuart Chapman, COO and General Partner, Draper Esprit. “As more and more startups look to space as the next area to disrupt, we believe substantial progress can be made in everything from tracking natural disasters to advancing our global security. We look forward to working with the team at ICEYE as they expand.”

Draper Nexus’ Q Motiwala had this to add: “As a global alliance, we’re able to support ICEYE stronger than ever before. Draper Esprit’s ‘patient capital model’ allows it to back ICEYE through its future growth. That coupled with Draper Associates’ legendary reputation and our [Draper Nexus’] expertise in deep tech and customer business development, will enable ICEYE to reach even greater heights.”

ICEYE CEO Rafal Modrzewski showcased during opening of Draper Nexus’ B2B Summit in Tokyo

This syndicate follows DVN’s co-investment earlier this year in blockchain security company Ledger. There, three member funds participated in Ledger’s $75M Series B, one of the largest funding rounds in the cryptocurrency space.

These successful syndicates represent the power of the Draper Venture Network to collaborate in funding large, game-changing companies, and expanding the market and impact of these companies to all corners of the globe. “The ICEYE investment proves once again the value of our global VC alliance,” says DVN’s Executive Director Gabe Turner. “Our Partners can quickly come together to share their knowledge and their investment opportunities with others in the Network, and in turn participate in backing the best companies across the world.”

More information on ICEYE’s Series B round can be found here.


Special thank you to Gabe Turner (Executive Director of DVN), Natsuki Zihnioglu (Associate at Draper Nexus Ventures), Isabella Cookson (Head of Marketing & Research at Draper Esprit), and ICEYE for your assistance in writing this article.