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Drone Delivery Startup Zipline Gets $250M For Instant Logistics

The drone delivery startup Zipline announced $250 million in new funding this week, bringing the company’s valuation to $2.75 billion.

The company, which got its start delivering medicine in Rwanda, said it will use the money to expand into new industries and regions, while also improving its autonomy platform, aircraft and fulfillment systems.

Zipline said the funding follows a momentous year for the company. Expanded service hours in Rwanda made it the first 24/7 drone delivery service in the world, and a new partnership in Ghana enabled Zipline to distribute medical aid to 90 percent of that country.

The company also announced new partnerships with Walmart in the U.S. and Toyota in Japan, and worked with Pfizer to design and test a delivery solution for COVID vaccines. All in all, the company helped to deliver two million vaccine doses.

“When we launched in Rwanda in 2016, we set out to serve 21 hospitals in the first year. It was hard — integrating systems, fine-tuning hardware, onboarding new facilities and pioneering new systems to integrate into civilian airspace, to name a few,” the company said in a news release. By contrast, Zipline’s upcoming medical supply delivery endeavor in Nigeria will see the company serving 1,000 new facilities.

While COVID certainly played a role in the company’s growth this year — Zipline was involved in delivering PPE in North Carolina — its CEO said two years ago that there was a need for its services beyond the company’s roots in Africa. “People think what we do is solving a developing economies problem,” said Founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo. “But critical-access hospitals are closing at an alarming rate in the U.S., too, especially if you live in the rural U.S. Life expectancy there has declined over the past several years.”

For more on Zipline and the larger picture of the drone economy, read PYMNTS’ 2019 report.

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