Founder Profile: Jetoptera

 

Summary

Jetoptera, now raising on MicroVentures, has been rated a Deal to Watch. The team, led by Denis Dancanet, is creating (and patenting) propulsion systems for vertical/short takeoff and landing aircrafts. The team has already secured partnerships with the US Navy as well as General Electric Aviation. 

 

We sat down with Denis to learn about the genesis story of Jetoptera, patents, plans for expansion, and more-


Kingscrowd
For those who don’t know, what is the genesis story of jetoptera?
Denis

About six years ago drones entered the public consciousness, with Jef Bezos talking about Prime Air delivery via drones.  However, the drones people talked about did not seem very capable. They were slow, without much range and payload capability.  Soon after, the Kathmandu earthquake further showed the limitations of existing drone technology to offer relief. We started Jetoptera with the goal of making aerial mobility commonplace, by offering technology that makes drones very capable and can eventually be scaled to flying cars.  We have developed a revolutionary propulsion system integrated with a novel airframe that is ideal for vertical and short takeoff and landing (V/STOL). The Fluidic Propulsive SystemTM involves no spinning propellers or fans on the outside of the aircraft, resulting in an extremely compact design. It is scalable, from small unmanned to large manned aircraft and has many advantages over other approaches: faster, simpler, quieter, more compact, and lower cost. Our mission is to use fluidic propulsion to enable V/STOL aircraft of an unmatched combination of speed, range, payload, and efficiency to transport cargo and people.

Kingscrowd
How do you plan on allocating funds raised in this round to scale the business?
Denis

The funds raised will be allocated to research and development, salaries, legal expenses for patents, and marketing costs.

Kingscrowd
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Denis

We are not aware of any competitors in our core area of fluidic propulsion.  Several other technologies compete, less effectively or efficiently in our opinion, with fluidic propulsion technology.  Competing technologies involve propellers or fans that are powered by fuel, hybrid electric, or electric. Large propellers are efficient but noisy, and have a large footprint, as well as creating propeller strike worries.  Small propellers are less efficient. Ducted fans provide some measure of noise reduction and lessening of propeller strike worries at the expense of lower efficiency, increased RPM, higher noise, and blade out event worries.  Tiltrotors have a very large footprint, are noisy, and have mechanical vibration issues. Hybrid electric and pure electric technologies suffer from low battery energy density. Hybrid technology alleviates range and endurance considerations at the expense of extra weight and complexity of electricity generation.  All competing systems are more complicated, as they involve many more moving parts.

Kingscrowd
Can you speak to your range of impressive partnerships?
Denis

We have a partnership with GE Aviation, aimed at providing a source of compressed air for fluidic propulsion systems for larger aircraft.  We have recently provided a press release on our progress towards testing a modified GE H80 engine, an 800 hp engine, later this year. We have a Cooperative Research And Development Agreement (CRADA) with the US Navy, aimed at flying payloads to collect data for the military.  And we have recently announced a collaboration with Honeywell, a leading maker of auxiliary power units, aimed at providing a source of compressed air for smaller unmanned aircraft, especially targeting the military.

Kingscrowd
How many patents do you hold?
Denis

We have been awarded three utility patents in the United States.  We have also been awarded six design patents, half in the US and half internationally.  We have dozens of patents pending, both in the US and internationally. We believe our extensive patent portfolio is one of the greatest strengths of our company.

Kingscrowd
What are your plans for expansion?
Denis

In terms of products, we are working on a 200 lbf fluidic propulsion system and a 200 lb total weight unmanned aircraft, that we expect will be ready later this year.  In parallel, we are working on testing with GE a system that would power a 1,000 lb aircraft. We expect to have propulsion systems of 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 4,000 lbf.  The last two would be powerful enough for a two or four-seater flying car, and we expect to get there in two years.

 

In terms of markets, the first market will be the US military.  This is due both to existing requirements that can be fulfilled by our technology and the state of the regulatory environment.  We are talking to several groups in different branches of the military and seeing interest. We are also talking to defense aerospace companies about partnering to target the military market and establishing long-term teaming agreements, and seeing interest there as well.  After the military market, we expect to target international, emergency relief, surveying, agriculture, and logistics markets. Once we have manned applications, we think we will have very compelling solutions for general aviation, both helicopter replacement and urban air mobility.

Kingscrowd
what are the biggest risks associated with your business?
Denis

I will highlight three risks: regulations, intellectual property, and talent.  First, whenever you are building flying things, you have to worry about regulatory risk.  This is one reason why we think it makes sense to target the military market first. Data collected in military flight testing can later be used to speed up commercial certification.  Second, we have developed a significant IP portfolio, as opposed to most of our competition. This is an important differentiator. We must continue to be vigilant about protecting our IP and careful in striking partnership and licensing agreements.  Finally, any company’s success depends on its employees. Aviation is undergoing a renaissance, with lots of interesting projects. Against this backdrop, we must retain our key personnel and add future significant contributors.

Kingscrowd
How is your team uniquely positioned to win out in this market?
Denis

We have a very experienced team, whose members have prior achievements in areas directly relevant to the business.  Our CTO, Andrei Evulet, has worked at GE for 15 years and was in charge of the technology going into the largest turbofan engine in the world, the GE9X.  He has more than 40 patents to his name. Along with our CFO, Simina Farcasiu, I have experience building successful teams. Our VP of business development, Todd Newton, is a retired Lt. Col. in the US Marine Corps and has 26 years of experience in defense aerospace, in support of both manned and unmanned multi-intelligence programs and projects.

Kingscrowd
What does your business model look like?
Denis

Our strategy has been to position ourselves as a propulsion system provider, one that enables a great solution for vertical and short takeoff and landing aircraft.  We have built entire aircraft to demonstrate our technology, but our preference is to focus on the propulsion part and have partnerships, both with providers of compressed air and with companies making airframes.  This can take the form of licensing and teaming agreements. This approach would reduce the capital demands for growing the business and reduce the regulatory risk, by relying on partner help. That said, if the market demands that we are more vertically integrated, that is something that we would consider.  We are also interacting directly with the US military, targeting non-dilutive contract funding.

Kingscrowd
As you think about the business years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like?
Denis

Maximizing shareholder value will, of course, be the guiding principle.  Right now we are working on military and aerospace contracts. The amount and trajectory of those contracts will determine the next steps.  A possible path would be to achieve success on the military side in several programs of record and sell the military side of the business to a defense aerospace company.  Then focus on growing the commercial side, as regulations permit, and build the company to an eventual acquisition by an aerospace company or an IPO.


We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Denis and his team take the company. Jetoptera is currently raising funds on the MicroVentures portal.


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About: Olivia Strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

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