Treeswift Raises $4.8M to Advance Forest Monitoring via Drones


March 28, 2022

Treeswift has announced raising $4.8 million in seed funding, led by Pathbreaker Ventures. The company said it has raised $6.4 million total to provide forest stakeholders with more easily accessible precision data and analysis.

The company’s SwiftCruise is a drone-based solution that navigates under the forest canopy quickly and efficiently to collect terabytes of data within harsh forest terrain. SwiftCruise can extract individual tree metrics through a combination of cameras, sensors, and advanced machine learning algorithms. The services are used in carbon capture estimation, timber value appraisal, fire mitigation, biomass understory, deforestation monitoring, advanced growth forecasting, and overall forest management.

“Treeswift’s solution is able to measure the natural world in a way never before possible,” said Ryan Gembala, founder and managing partner of Pathbreaker Ventures. “The implications for commercial forestry, carbon capture, and more are profound. I expect the data from their deployments to become a foundation for the biggest opportunities in nature-based solutions and management over the upcoming decades.”

Treeswift was co-founded in 2020 by Steven Chen, CEO; Elizabeth Hunter, Ph.D., COO; Michael Shomin, Ph.D., CTO; and Vaibhav Arcot, Senior Software Engineer. The funds will be used to grow the company on all fronts in order to meet customer demand.

“Our mission is to build the data ecosystem for the natural world, and we are accomplishing that by capturing important data from below the forest canopy,” said Steven Chen, Treeswift’s CEO. “We anticipate that Treeswift technology will help to obtain a more transparent, verifiable, and accurate view of the planet from the ground up.”

Treeswift said prior approaches to capturing forest data have been fundamentally limited, focusing on remote sensing methods such as satellites or planes. At best, these approaches measured the top of the forest but not the detail and complexity of everything beneath the canopy. The company found that what gets the best forest data for their customers isn’t the specific hardware or sensors, but the algorithms that guide the product under the forest canopy.

This process is accomplished to date by a timber cruiser, the job title for those who try to capture and quantify forest data with tape measures and clipboards. With Treeswift, these same operators use SwiftCruise to capture complex forest environment data at unprecedented detail. In addition, an operator can collect the required data 10x faster with SwiftCruise than through existing approaches.

Treeswift is currently deploying or piloting with commercial forest companies such as Molpus Woodlands Group, Superior Pine Products Company, and Weyerhaeuser Company where they are estimating forest timber quantity and carbon volumes.

“The Molpus team has been particularly impressed with Treeswift’s ability to accurately allocate trees into product classes and to identify stem quality issues impacting value,” said Randy Taylor, Senior Director, Resource Planning of Molpus Woodlands Group. “Understanding and accurately maintaining timber inventories play an important part in managing our clients’ forests to their potential.”

“Treeswift is helping us to manage our business smarter and more strategically,” said Scott Griffin, president and CEO of Fargo, Georgia-based Superior Pine Products Company. “Not only have I been impressed with how much faster and more accurate it is to collect data from our forests, I’m equally impressed with the professionalism and know-how of the Treeswift management team.”

Treeswift is also advised by Harold Burkhart of Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation and Vijay Kumar, the Nemirovsky Family Dean of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Laboratory. Burkhart is one of the world leaders in modeling forest stand dynamics, growth and yield; as well as applying quantitative analysis techniques to forestry problems. Kumar’s expertise is in creating autonomous ground and aerial robots, designing bio-inspired algorithms for collective behaviors, and robot swarms.

Additional investors in the seed round included Crosslink Capital, TenOneTen Ventures, Contour Venture Partners, Boom Capital Ventures, Yes VC, Susa Ventures, Draft Ventures, Anorak Ventures, S7 Ventures, Awesome People Ventures, Switch Ventures, Convective Capital, and Dorm Room Fund. 

For more information about Treeswift, visit its website here.

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