US billionaire Tim Draper, famed for investments in the likes of PayPal, Tesla, Twitter, Coinbase and Robinhood, has backed Australian-based drone planting eco-tech firm Lord of the Trees (LOTT) in a $US1.25 million (A$1.67m) pre-Seed round.
The investment values LOTT, founded in 2019, at A$7 million.
Lord of the Trees is a global reforestation company that uses swarms of precision drones, AI and proprietary seed pods that is able to plant up to 400,000 seed pods in 12 hours.
The startup already has projects underway in Townsville and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, with imminent plans for new planting the World Heritage-listed Daintree rainforest, Greece and parts of America.
LOTT founder Aymeric Maudous said discussions are underway with local and international government agencies, NGOs, environmental groups, mining corporations and agricultural landowners for new projects.
His drone planting solution has the potential to transform reforestation programs and the scale they can operate at.
“Not all planting is created equal. The old manual, hand planting methods were time-consuming and came with a high failure rate, so the entire approach to reforestation needed a major rethink,” Maudous said.
“By combining the knowledge of environment experts, scientists, engineers, animal protection agencies and indigenous communities we are able to deploy swarms of drones to undertake companion planting.”
Maudous said the LOTT planting speed enhances the plants’ symbiotic relationship to ensure success of the replanted areas.
“I believe our significant research and tech capabilities really appealed to Tim Draper, and we are delighted to welcome him as Lord of the Trees’ lead investor,” he said.
Draper said LOTT was the answer to a question he’d been asking for some time.
“For ages I had been wanting to invest in a company that’s truly committed to planet regeneration, and then I found Lord of the Trees!” he said.
“I was thrilled by their simple technological solution and innovative business model, plus their commitment to meet the growing needs of carbon reduction across the globe. I marvel at the possibilities this company is creating for our planet and their commitment to restoring our ecosystems.”