Key Stats: Parallel Flight Technologies on Wefunder
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The Parallel Flight Technologies team has been selected as a “Deal to Watch” by KingsCrowd. This distinction is reserved for deals selected into the top 10%-20% of our due diligence funnel. If you have questions regarding our deal diligence and selection methodology, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drones today have significant applications. And this is likely to only become truer in the future. One issue holding them down though (particularly with models that carry heavy loads) is limited flight time. All-electric drones often max out at 30 minutes or less, while even the best serial hybrids may last for around an hour. For recreational purposes, this might be fine. But it’s a major, and often costly, shortcoming for people and companies that are interested in using the machines for more vital tasks. Applications such as fighting fires, transporting medical supplies, and surveying areas for search and rescue operations are all limited by such short flights.
One company that believes it has the solution to this issue is Parallel Flight Technologies. Founded by a trio of engineers, the firm is dedicated to building and selling drones that can carry heavy payloads for extended periods of time. By mixing the best attributes of internal combustion engines with lite-weight materials, the firm is building beta drones capable of hauling up to 100lbs of goods for up to 1 hour or 50lbs for up to 4 hours.
If successful in its efforts, the company’s drones will have major ramifications for a number of industries. Take firefighting operations as an example. As a general rule, helicopters that fight fires can only operate when it’s daytime and in conditions where sight is not materially impaired. The risk to human life otherwise is just too high. Drones capable of delivering water or performing other tasks, on the other hand, have no such restrictions. They can fly in the dark and in hazy conditions through the use of guidance systems and without the fear of loss of life.
They can also be cheaper in many instances than helicopters. In one example, a report by Goldman Sachs stated that oil and gas pipeline companies often hire helicopters to survey their pipelines. The cost can be around $2,500 per hour. By comparison, Parallel wants to sell its 100lb-carrying drones for between $200,000 and $250,000 apiece. With no more than 100 hours, the cost of buying a drone would be breakeven. Everything after that point is an opportunity for the company in question to save.
Management’s primary goal for generating revenue appears to be through the sale of these drone systems. Potential buyers include large prime contractors, government agencies, and other similarly-large entities. That’s not going to be their only source of income though. The company also intends to sell maintenance contracts (targeted at $20,000 per year for each unit) to keep drone downtime to a minimum. Customized engineering can also be a source of revenue for the business.
Since launching, Parallel Flight Technologies has done well to get its message out. The firm already has 12 LOIs (letters of intent). Specifics have not been provided regarding how much these LOIs are worth, but what’s exciting is that they touch multiple markets. These include the fire market the company is targeting first, but another key space of interest is precision agriculture. However investors should not get too excited just yet. The time to market is still a ways off. Management intends to perform on-site demos starting in the fourth quarter of this year. The beta drones should be delivered to first buyers by the third quarter next year. By the fourth quarter 2021 the firm intends to scale production and begin development on further offerings.
To get to this point, management has raised $1.7 million. Some of this has been through grants that the firm received because of partnerships it has with NASA and the NSF. This is good, because revenue has not been a valid source of funding its growth just yet. In 2018, the company generated nothing in the way of revenue. 2019 saw revenue of just $71,909, but all of that was classified as grant revenue. While the firm did report a profit in 2018 of $3,960, its loss of $274,519 in 2019 was significant. Operating cash flows have followed a similar path, coming in positive $6,295 in 2018 before turning negative in 2019 to the tune of $221,005. Even with these outflows, though, the company’s cash on hand has been significant. As of the end of its 2019 fiscal year, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $769,181.
The market for drones today is not all that significant in size. According to a report by Goldman Sachs, the estimate was for the industry (between 2016 and 2020) to be worth a total of $100 billion. Sales to the military made up $70 billion of this opportunity. Another $17 billion was on the consumer side. Meanwhile, the remaining $13 billion was attributable to commercial and civil activities. It’s really the military and commercial/civil opportunities that make the most sense for high-cost, heavy payload drones to fit in. Even these can be broken up into small categories though.
Take, for instance, the firefighting market. The total addressable market size there, Goldman Sachs believes, is about $881 million for the US alone. Naturally, Parallel could become a global brand, but it’s highly probable that it will emphasize the US market first given that it’s located here. The Coast Guard offers another market for drones worth about $511 million. Customs and Border Enforcement is a $380 million market, while pipeline surveying is about $41 million. Mining is a similar size at roughly $40 million, while the market for police activities is about $885 million.
Offshore oil/gas and refining is even larger at $1.11 billion, but the two big ones appear to be agriculture and construction. Agriculture is believed to be a $5.93 billion addressable market, while construction stands at a lofty $11.16 billion. Naturally, there will be sub-segments in these markets where small, agile drones take up market share. However, it’s not hard to imagine any of these markets needing drones capable of hauling heavy payloads and operating for hours on end.
Terms of the Deal
Right now, Parallel Flight Technologies is seeking funds in order to continue expanding the business. The goal, according to its crowdraise page, is to bring in up to $1.50 million in cash. That said, management is willing to close a round with as little as $50,000. Fortunately, this low of a threshold won’t be needed. As of this writing, the company has $268,360 committed to its current raise. In exchange, investors in the business receive Class B Common shares, priced at just $3 apiece. The minimum amount required per participant in the transaction is $2,500. In addition, the pre-money valuation set by management stands at $18 million. On June 26th, though, Parallel did file under Regulation A to raise nearly $7.50 million, with 1.61 million units priced at $4.67 apiece.
An Eye on Management
There are three key members behind Parallel. The primary individual in charge is Joshua Resnick, one of the firm’s co-founders and its CEO. Prior to working on Parallel, Resnick was employed at Tesla. His highest-ranking position there was as a Senior Electrical Engineer on the Tesla Semi. In the past, he also worked as the Principal and Owner at KeV, and before that he was an Owner and Engineer at Genesis Machining and Fabrication.
The second person of note is Bobby Hulter, another co-founder and the company’s Director of Software and Controls. Previously, he was employed as a Senior Electrical Engineer at OLT Solar. Before that, he worked as a Reliability Engineer at OmniVision. The last main individual is David Adams, the third co-founder of the group and the Director of Operations at Parallel. He previously worked as a Senior Systems Integration Engineer at Verb Surgical. He has also served in the past as a Product Engineer at Lam Research. And before that he was an Operations Officer at the Office of Naval Research Global.
After reviewing all of the data available, our team has rated Parallel a Deal to Watch. This high-level ranking is based on the impressive track record of the company’s team. One example of this is the team’s ability to develop a beta drone that seems to solve a major shortcoming in the space. It’s also due to the company’s success in raising funding, partnering up with legitimate organizations, and landing some valuable LOIs. The industry is fragmented, but the firm’s decision to target a niche in that space is a wise move.
The downsides to the company, by comparison, are few and far between. The pre-money valuation does seem high given the stage of development the company is in. Another issue is the firm’s history of cash outflows, but with so much cash on hand by the end of 2019, the picture there appears fine for now. Because of the capital-intensity of the firm, investors should expect future dilutive raises. But so long as management can make progress between now and then, the end result should be accretive to the value its investors are receiving.
About: Daniel jones
Daniel Jones is a graduate of Case Western University with a degree in Economics. He has spent several years as an equity analyst writer for The Motley Fool where he focuses primarily on the Consumer Goods sector but also likes to dive in on interesting topics involving energy, industrials, and macroeconomics, in addition to contributing equity research to publications such as Seeking Alpha.