Why Adelaide space startup Fleet has got Mike Cannon-Brookes’ “adrenaline pumping” — and $5 million in funding

Fleet CEO Flavia Tata Nardini

Fleet co-founder and chief executive Flavia Tata Nardini. Source: Supplied.

Atlassian co-founder and billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes has participated in a $5 million Series A funding round for an Adelaide-based space startup that is aiming to connect as many as 75 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors expected to be online by 2025.

Fleet, founded in 2015 by space engineer Flavia Tata Nardini, Dr Matthew Tetlow and serial entrepreneur Matt Pearson, is planning to launch the first of more than 100 planned satellites into space next year to establish free global connectivity for IoT devices through nano-satellite technology.

The Series A round led by Blackbird Ventures drew co-investment from Cannon-Brookes, Earth Space Robotics and Silicon Valley’s Horizon Partners.

“I want Fleet to be the first provider for businesses all over the world for Internet of Things,” Tata Nardini tells StartupSmart.

“If you see our model, we are free data — free data is an enabler of connectivity.”

Tata Nardini says Fleet’s satellite constellation will create a “digital nervous system” that will transform how industries connect and gather critical information from IoT devices.

“Be it measuring the effect of climate change on outer corners [of] the Great Barrier Reef or tracking important cargo like aid as it journeys across the Indian Ocean,” Tata Nardini says.

“This investment brings a global network of connectivity one step closer to reality.”

Through such applications, Tata Nardini believes Fleet will help industries address some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as producing food and preserving natural resources like water.

“We will really be able to change the world,” she says.

Tata Nardini says the $5 million investment will be used to launch Fleet’s first satellites into space next year and to start putting in place the satellite constellation and service on earth.

An idea that gets “adrenaline pumping”

The idea for Fleet hit Tata Nardini as she watched the massive uptake in IoT devices across large industries like agriculture and mining over the past few years.

While she says “it’s an exciting time to be alive”, there was a clear gap in the market.

“IoT and this industry revolution is booming … what I could see was no one had a solution to connect them,” she says.

“No one knew how we were going to make this industrial revolution happen.”

Cannon-Brookes believes Fleet is a force to be reckoned with and plans to “help it influence the global economy for the better”.

“They’re rare, but every so often an idea [crosses] your path that really gets the adrenaline pumping,” Cannon-Brookes said in a statement.

“Fleet answers one of modern society’s most difficult but important questions: how do we bring all the devices and technology we’ve created together to work as one?

“Once live, Fleet will solve an innumerable amount of the world’s problems as it enables the potential of technology to be turned on.”

Earth Space Robotics founder and director James Schultz also believes Fleet’s technology can drastically transform the environmental and natural resource industries.

“It will improve our ability to measure environmental change, and proactively steer the course towards better outcomes,” Schultz said in a statement.

“Fleet is the global connectivity solution the world desperately needs as we set ambitious targets to improve sustainability issues and reduce greenhouse gases.”

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