Wildfire Detection Startup Pano Extends Its $20M Series A With Another $17M

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Not all use cases for AI make sense, but Pano AI makes a life-saving contribution in the yes column. Just last week, the company was able to send out advance notices of the Kutch Road Fire, which erupted near Kutch Mountain in Yamhill County, Oregon. The company showed me how it was able to detect a fire and issue an alert 13 minutes before the first 911 call, illustrating its value to firefighters, even though the license cost per station is $50,000.

The company’s solution is to mount high-definition cameras that can be controlled remotely. They can be operated manually by a human operator or go into scan mode, where they rotate at approximately one revolution per minute. The footage is verified by an AI, which searches for smoke and fire; if he sees something, he raises the alarm.

We design the station network so that we can see the fires from two stations. Next, we have our proprietary algorithm where we triangulate and calculate the latitude and longitude which is really critical because you don’t get this from your 911 call, explains Sonia Kastner, CEO of Pano AI. Only 5% of 911 calls are actually fires, so a 911 call needs to be verified by dispatching a truck. This takes a long time and you can’t throw a heavy response based on just one call. We double check it [what the AI detected] It’s a real fire before you trigger an alarm for the fire chief.

The combination of early detection and much higher alarm fidelity in terms of both what was detected and where, means that responders can leave helicopters and bulldozers safely parked when they are not really needed or start moving them towards the fire hours before they would. they were able to do without Pano AIs.

The company just closed a Series A extension and hints that the fundraising environment is difficult at the moment.

If the VC market hadn’t suffered a downturn, we would have picked up a Series B this year. But there has been a pullback in the venture capital financing market. Valuations were down, but they were growing like crazy, and we decided to raise less capital, Kastner explains of the company’s decision to raise less in 2023 and focus on a larger round next year. He believes the market is recovering as we speak. We’ll be able to raise a nice big Series B and continue with our Series B plans. The fires aren’t slowing down, so this additional capital now means we don’t have to slow anything down either.

Pano AI says it has raised its current $17 million Series A extension to a slightly higher valuation than last years $20 million Series A. The seed extension round was led by Valor Equity Partners and also added a couple of strategic investors; T-Mobile Ventures and Salesforce.

We have seen the rise of Pano AI as an exemplary leader in climate adaptation. The team’s unwavering commitment to innovation is fueling the development of transformative and scalable solutions to help combat the growing devastation caused by wildfires, Abe Yokell, co-founder and managing partner of Congruent Ventures, said in a statement. The urgency to mitigate and prevent the impacts of wildfires has never been clearer and we are proud to continue supporting Panos’ efforts to address these threats.

The partnership with T-Mobile is particularly interesting; Pano AI uses the company both for its 5G network and even uses some of the same trees to mount its hardware. The company’s business model is interesting: Pano AI owns the cameras and infrastructure and sells licenses for its software to companies and organizations. Currently, Pano AI says most of its customers are power companies, private landowners (like ski resorts), and government fire agencies, whether local, regional, or federal. Notable clients of Pano AI include PacifiCorp, Xcel Energy, Portland General Electric (PGE), Holy Cross Energy, Big Sky Fire Department, Aspen Fire Protection District, Telluride Fire Protection District, Boulder County, Washington DNR, Forestry Corporation of NSW (Australia) , Southern Cross Forests (Australia) and Noosa Councils FireTech Connect Program (Australia).

Our price varies according to the client; we tailor the offering, but the typical price is $50,000 per station per year per customer, Kastner explains. The company says it is focusing on its first product for now, responding to international demand for its fire detection platform, before rolling out its product offering with Series B financing in 2024. So for a customer looking to subscribes to 20 stations, it would be about a million dollars a year.

The company currently employs around 45 people and says it actively monitors over 6 million acres of land.

I think we have about 100 units deployed, and we will be in the hundreds by the end of this year, Kastner describes. RWe are now growing rapidly in both the US and Australia. We already have deployments in six states in the US, two states in Australia. We are also starting some initial discussions in Europe.

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