The funding round was also joined by a Hong Kong-based principal investment firm, ZB Capital; MTDC (Malaysian Technology Development Corporation) a strategic investment fund wholly-owned by the Khazanah Nasional Berhad, and other angel investors.
“The funding will allow us to scale up operations to better serve customers across the region, and to attract top talent to further improve our products,” said Cheong Jin Xi, Poladrone’s founder and CEO. With a presence in Thailand already, an Indonesian expansion is being planned for next.
Gavin Lee, General Partner at Wavemaker Partners said, “Having been brought up in a household of agricultural operators all the while spending over a decade working on his passion for drones, Jin Xi knows precisely what problems plantation owners face and how automation can help. It has been amazing to see him and the Poladrone team’s approach to building localized solutions that are highly efficient, cost-effective, and tailored to plantations of all sizes. Poladrone now works with eight out of 10 of the biggest palm oil plantations in Malaysia – an impressive feat that gives us confidence to back the team and their vision of propelling Southeast Asia’s agriculture industry.”
Founded in 2017 by Jin Xi Cheong, Poladrone is a drone tech company that focuses on putting forward drones as an industrial solution. The company uses autonomous drones and customized algorithms to collect and analyze data efficiently.
In August 2020, Poladrone launched Oryctes in collaboration with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation. It is the world’s first precision spot spraying drone to introduce automated and an efficient solution to the oil palm industry where rhinoceros beetles are a serious issue. Poladrone has also launched Mist Drone recently which blanket sprays open field crops like corn, paddies, and bananas.
Poladrone is one of those companies that has benefitted from the labour shortage caused during the COVID-19 pandemic peak, especially in the oil palm industry. Leading companies during the pandemic have accelerated their adoption of technology, the startup has quadrupled its team from twenty to more than eighty in less than a year.
The startup has also launched an initiative of setting up service centers in agricultural towns to offer “Sales, Service, and Spare Parts” in Malaysia and Thailand. The service centers will also double up as ‘centers of excellence’, where industrial training and knowledge sharing will be conducted to boost the adoption of drone technology.