DJI and Accel Launch SkyFund to Seed Innovation Across the UAV Ecosystem

by | May 28, 2015

SHENZHEN, China & PALO ALTO, Calif., May 27, 2015”Global adoption of commercial, industrial and consumer unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) illustrates a tremendous opportunity for developers, entrepreneurs and businesses. To accelerate market innovation, growth and maturity, DJI and Accel today launched the SkyFund as the first-of-its-kind investment vehicle to stimulate the UAV developer ecosystem through access to capital, technology and resources.

SkyFund is designed to galvanize creative entrepreneurial energy and drive mainstream adoption of drone-based vehicles and services. The fund will invest in leading early-stage companies across the categories of robotics and machine intelligence, software, computer vision and navigation, multimedia communities and tools, services and more. In particular, SkyFund will support entrepreneurs and developers building on the DJI SDK to create industry-specific software applications for mapping, imaging, agriculture, inspection and beyond.

In addition to seed capital, SkyFund-backed companies will gain exclusive access to a range of resources through DJI and Accel. DJI will contribute product and technical resources, platform-level support around the DJI SDK and product APIs, access to preferred demos and beta programs, co-branding opportunities and go-to-market support to help entrepreneurs get their initial concepts off the ground. Accel, meanwhile, will draw upon its extensive history working with preeminent developer communities — like Atlassian, Braintree, Cloudera, Couchbase, Dropbox, Facebook, Segment and many others — to help develop and implement best practices around developer evangelism, community building and scalable support channels.

SkyFund companies will also have access to an advisory board composed of thought leaders, practitioners, hackers and academics across the UAV landscape. Advisors will offer domain expertise and perspectives on critical matters facing modern UAV companies, including regulatory affairs, robotics and AI leadership, developer evangelism, privacy concerns and best practices in scaling large, enduring technology businesses. Inaugural members of the advisory board include Greg Duffy, Founder of Dropcam (and licensed helicopter pilot); Dr. Vijay Kumar, Dean of Engineering and Director of the GRASP Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania; Sam Lessin, former Head of Product Management at Facebook; Nick Schrock, Director of Engineering at Facebook; Jeff Seibert, Director of Developer Platform at Twitter; Anne Swanson, Partner in Cooley LLP’s Regulatory Communications Practice; and Dick Wolf, Emmy Award-winning TV producer who is incorporating UAVs into shows like Law & Order, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D.


“DJI is fast becoming the aerial platform of choice thanks to the company’s forward-thinking and premium products, easy-to-use flight system, quality construction and modularity,” said Sameer Gandhi, partner at Accel. “We’ve been fortunate to help seed many preeminent developer communities with companies like Atlassian, Braintree, Cloudera, Dropbox, Facebook, and many others. We believe DJI has the potential to become the next great platform opportunity to drive innovation in dozens of industries.”

“SkyFund was created to develop new and amplify existing technology from around the world by championing developers and sparking a sense of curiosity about unmanned vehicles and services,” said Eric Cheng, general manager for San Francisco and director of aerial imaging at DJI. “Hundreds of developers already use DJI’s platform, and SkyFund enables us to fund developers and businesses that imagine new opportunities.”

“It’s amazing to think about the types of opportunities that DJI has opened up with its aerial robotics technology,” said Dick Wolf, SkyFund Advisory Board Member and TV Producer. “It has allowed me to completely reimagine the creative process. It’s a thrilling time and I’m looking forward to helping SkyFund companies bring some amazing ideas to life.”


Introducing the SkyFund (


About SkyFund

SkyFund is the world’s first investment fund dedicated to galvanizing the next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and related services. The fund was created by DJI and Accel to incentivize the developer, entrepreneurial and startup communities by providing funding to accelerate innovation across dozens of industries around the world, including photography, video and film, emergency response, environment research, surveying and mapping, agriculture, real estate, logistics and distribution, construction and much more. For more information, visit

About DJI

DJI is a global leader in developing and manufacturing innovative camera technology for commercial and recreational use. DJI was founded and is run by people with a passion for remote-controlled helicopters and experts in flight control technology and camera stabilization. The company is dedicated to making aerial photography and filmmaking more reliable and easier to use for creators and innovators around the world. DJI’s global operations currently span North America, Europe and Asia, and its revolutionary products and solutions have been chosen by customers in over 100 countries; for applications in film, advertising, construction, fire fighting, farming, and many other industries.

For more information, visit DJI online:

About Accel

Accel is a leading early and growth-stage venture capital firm, powering a global community of entrepreneurs. Accel backs entrepreneurs who have what it takes to build a world-class, category-defining business. Founded in 1983, Accel brings more than three decades of experience building and supporting hundreds of companies. Accel’s vision for entrepreneurship and business enables it to identify and invest in the companies that will be responsible for the growth of next-generation industries. Accel has backed a number of iconic global platforms, which are powering new experiences for mobile consumers and the modern enterprise, including Atlassian, Braintree, Cloudera, Dropbox, Etsy, Facebook, Flipkart, Slack, Spotify, VSCO and others.


May Issue 2023