29. Flirtey

The robot revolution takes flight.

Founders: Tom Bass, Ahmed Haider, Matthew Sweeny (CEO)
Launched: 2013
Headquarters: Reno, Nevada
$16 million
Valuation: N/A
Key technologies:
Drones/UAVs, robotics
Drones, logistics, robots

George Kavallines | CNBC

As if online shopping hasn't posed enough of an existential threat to brick-and-mortar retailers, they now have drones to worry about. Case in point: Flirtey, a leading drone delivery service that works with ambulance and medical providers to deliver medicine to rural health-care clinics. Flirtey has also partnered with Domino's Pizza and 7-Eleven, to deliver food, drinks and other consumer products. In October the Reno, Nevada-based company also announced a partnership with REMSA Health to deliver a portable defibrillator when a 911 call reports someone is in cardiac arrest. The service will begin in Nevada this year. The goal, said the company, is to get the device on scene in less time than it takes an ambulance to get through traffic.

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One of the biggest questions surrounding commercial drone deliveries is whether they are in any way violating federal or state air-traffic regulations. CEO Matthew Sweeny, a co-founder of the company, said Flirtey is working with officials around the world — the company is allowed to operate in the United States, New Zealand and Australia — to help shape regulations and systems in additional markets.

So far, the company has raised $16 million in a Series A round from Menlo Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures, two companies that also invested $120,000 in seed funding. In 2015 Flirtey became the first company to receive FAA approval to conduct drone delivery in the United States. As a result, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has one of its drones on display.