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SA drone startup Aerobotics secures R8m in funding from 4Di, Savannah Fund

Aerial data-analytics specialist Aerobotics has secured a joint R8-million seed-funding round from South African venture capital company 4Di Capital and the Savannah Fund in Kenya.

In a press release today, Aerobotics co-founder James Paterson (pictured above, right with fellow co-founder Benji Meltzer) said the cash injection will be used to expand Aerobotics’ sales and marketing capabilities.

Aerobotics has built a solid client base of farmers and agricultural consultants in South Africa and the rest of the continent, as well as in Australia and the UK and Patterson added that the startup is currently working on finalising a number of pilot projects with large agricultural, finance and insurance companies around the world.

“We couldn’t have asked for better partners than 4Di and Savannah who between them have a wealth of entrepreneurial experience, and we look forward to building our existing operations in Africa, as well as expanding further into the global precision-farming space,” he said.

Cash injection will be used to expand sales and marketing capabilities says Aerobotics co-founder

4Di Partner Anton van Vlaanderen says the global drone industry is already sizeable and highly lucrative.

“Spectral imagery, and the resultant data and analysis thereof will add considerable value to a number of sectors, and the team at Aerobotics possess a unique blend of exceptional skills and talent that will mount a serious challenge in a developing growth industry,” he said.

Savannah Fund managing partner Mbwana Alliy believes it’s only a matter of time before the farming industry embraces drone technology.

“We’re looking to help Aerobotics scale across Sub-Saharan Africa, where drone use is still in its infancy. It will be particularly exciting to watch drone hardware costs fall to smartphone price levels, allowing even small-scale farmers to take advantage of their capabilities.”

Aerobotics has developed data-analytics platform Aeroview, which uses satellites, drones and artificial intelligence to help farmers optimise crop performance and reduce input costs.

The startup, which was launched in Cape Town in 2014 by Paterson and Benji Meltzer has now turned its eye to disruption of the crop-insurance sector (see their below presentation at a recent Startupbootcamp Insurtech DemoDay).


  • Nic

    Great news for this duo!
    I’m intrigued how they’re dealing with the legal side of running a drone operation in SA. Aerobotics is not listed as an ROC holder on the CAA’s website and by law, an ROC is just one of the many requirements for becoming a legal commercial drone operator in South Africa. Can anyone shed some light on how they’re running a legal drone business in SA? Not trolling, genuine question. I myself am in the process of becoming licensed and certified, a long, painful and incredibly expensive process. I’d love to know their story.

    • James Paterson

      Hi Nic, thanks for your comment!
      Aerobotics is a technology company, developing technology to add value to the agricultural and mining industries. We use data from drones and satellites to generate our insights, but our clients operate their own drones, or we work with operating partners to provide a service. Please contact us (info@aerobotics.co.za) if you are interested in being an operating partner.
      In Australia, the UK and the US (markets where we also operate), the regulations are a lot less restrictive.