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Sun, Sep 24, 2023

Rain Raises $9.7-Million in Seed Financing

U.S. Company Pioneers Autonomous Aerial Wildfire Suppression

Rain, an Alameda, California-based concern specializing in aerial wildfire containment technology, has announced an oversubscribed seed round, closing $9.7-million in financing to provide fire agencies prepositioned autonomous aircraft with which to contain wildfires before the blazes rage out of control.

San Francisco-based venture capital firm DBL Partners (the DBL moniker being an abbreviation of Double Bottom Line) led the round, with participation from VoLo Earth Ventures, Kapor Capital, and Convective Capital. Additional investors include Immad Akhund, Brian Bjelde, Steve Blank, John and Patrick Collison, Edward Fenster, Dylan Field, Nat Friedman, Daniel Gross, Geoff Ralston, and Blake Scholl. The funding will be used to advance pilot projects in the United States.

Founded in 2019, Rain leveraged fire agency insights and first-person experience with wildfires to create the world’s first autonomous rapid wildfire suppression system. The platform—an autonomous rotorcraft resembling a whitewashed, 2/3-scale Schweizer 300 helicopter—addresses the urgent need to scale, expedite, and modernize response to the growing number of wildfires, such as those by which the Lahaina community on the Hawaiian island of Maui was destroyed in August 2023.

Rain imbues autonomous aircraft with a wildfire intelligence system capable of rapidly perceiving, fathoming, and suppressing early-stage wildfire ignitions—capabilities as-of-yet unseen in extant wildfire suppression schemes. Rain’s technology facilitates the prepositioning of firefighting aircraft in high wildfire risk areas and works with existing wildfire detection systems by which Rain-equipped aircraft are remotely dispatched in the event ignition is detected. Such aircraft deploy in seconds and arrive over nascent fires in minutes.

Research suggests a 15-minute improvement in wildfire response time is apt to occasion a yearly economic benefit of as much as $8.2-billion in California alone. Across the U.S., total annual costs associated with wildfire average $348-billion. By 2030, the antecedent figure is expected to rise by approximately 14-percent.

Rain co-founder and CEO Maxwell Brodie stated: “Every year catastrophic wildfires claim lives, destroy entire communities, and diminish the carbon reduction efforts of nations and states. Rain’s technology enables a wildfire response time so fast that we can actually stop fires before they have a chance to grow out of control. Early response timing, like any emergency, can make all the difference in a successful outcome.”

DBL Partners founder, managing partner, and Rain board-member Nancy Pfund remarked: “Catastrophic wildfires are a climate flywheel we cannot ignore. Eighteen-percent of total global fossil fuel CO2 emissions were emitted by wildfires in 2021. The CO2 emissions from the 2023 Canadian wildfires are approaching three times the annual emissions of the state of California. Working with firefighting professionals, land owners and managers, conservation experts, residents, government officials, insurers, utilities, and other constituencies, Rain can help to catalyze a new, more effective approach to preventing the spread of unwanted wildfires. Rain’s 21st century technology not only promises to drive better wildfire outcomes, it will also help to create important new markets, and jobs. As an impact venture capital firm, we at DBL see Rain’s mission as the epitome of Double Bottom Line Investing.”

Both the White House and Congress, in 2023, have set forth policy guidance encouraging or requiring fire agencies to develop plans to adopt autonomous aircraft for rapid wildfire suppression.

VoLo Earth Ventures co-founder, managing director, and Rain investor Kareem Dabbagh asserted: “Forests have reached a critical tipping point, releasing more carbon due to wildfire than they are able to store. Rain's platform, as the future of autonomous aircraft for wildfire protection, will save billions of dollars in expense and allow insurers the ability to improve their wildfire risk-adoption, protecting property, electric grids, and human and planetary health.”

John Collison, president of digital payment concern Stripe, declared: “The steady rise of catastrophic wildfires is plain to see. Aerial firefighting is one of the most important use cases for autonomous flight, where Rain’s technological leaps can shorten response times, keep pilots out of harm’s way, and increase total fire suppression capabilities at a time when we sorely need them. Bring on the firefighter drones!”

FMI: www.rain.aero


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