July 20, 2023

Purdue Innovates Startup Foundry awards $200,000 in equity investment to Aerovy Mobility and Uniform Sierra Aerospace

Aerovy Mobility also received $40,000 from New Venture Challenge

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue Innovates Startup Foundry, which helps startups prepare for venture investment, awarded $100,000 apiece to Aerovy Mobility and Uniform Sierra Aerospace, two Purdue-affiliated startup companies.

The investments were awarded as part of Startup Foundry’s biannual Black and Gold Awards pitch competition. Up to $1 million total in equity investments was available during the Black and Gold competition. Entrepreneurs from 11 startups made pitches; judges could award between $30,000 and $100,000 to each company.

Aerovy Mobility also received $40,000 from the New Venture Challenge pitch competition. The competition is managed by the Purdue Innovates Incubator, which provides resources to de-risk Purdue-related startups and early-stage technology.

Tyler Mantel, director of Startup Foundry, said a startup’s initial investments provide a strong foundation that a company builds upon.

“These investments can move a startup forward by funding product-market fit and hiring first employees, but their impact goes beyond that,” Mantel said. “Initial investments are a sign to other prospective investors that these companies are investment-worthy, which could lead to follow-on investments and growth.”

Justin Renfrow, director of the Incubator, said de-risking companies and technologies creates long-term benefits.

“De-risking includes tasks like clarifying customers’ problems, performing market validation and detailing a business model,” Renfrow said. “These take time, but taking those steps helps companies grow to the stage where they are ready to take on significant outside investment.”

Aerovy Mobility provides cloud solutions for airlines and airports to prepare for and manage electric aviation. Nick Gunady and Seejay Patel, graduate students in Purdue’s College of Engineering, founded the company. Aerovy has been supported since incorporation in September 2022 by the John Martinson Entrepreneurial Center. Gunady said the Startup Foundry investment represents a significant milestone in Aerovy Mobility’s effort to enable the future of electric aviation.

“The funds will be used to launch our cloud-based live operations tool, VEMS, at vertiports and airports around the world,” Gunady said. “This investment from Purdue is a major vote of confidence from a major brand in aerospace toward our pre-seed round.”

Aerovy Mobility anticipates several milestones in the next 12 to 18 months.

“These include development of critical intellectual property and worldwide deployments of our cloud-based software tools for electric aviation planning and management,” Gunady said.

Uniform Sierra Aerospace is a drone manufacturer for public safety departments. Purdue alumni Duncan Mulgrew, Trevor Redpath and Jeremy Frederick founded the company. Mulgrew said the Startup Foundry investment will aid Uniform Sierra Aerospace’s fundraising efforts.

“It has been challenging to raise venture capital, given the vast majority of funds are exclusively focused on business-to-business SAAS (software as a service) companies,” Mulgrew said. “Having the backing and the name Purdue in our raise has helped us both to get the money we need for the current stage and trajectory of the business and to close some other investments faster.”

Mulgrew said Uniform Sierra Aerospace is moving into a new production facility in the Purdue Technology Center, a business incubator in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.

“This will allow us to greatly improve the production rate of our aircraft,” Mulgrew said. “Right now, manufacturing speed and space are our largest limiting factors; this will be a massive improvement for us. We are on track to deliver more than 32 full systems to users this year.”

The next Black and Gold Awards competition is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2023. The competition is industry-agnostic; Purdue-connected startups across all industry sectors are encouraged to apply. 

About Purdue Innovates Startup Foundry

Purdue Innovates Startup Foundry helps startups prepare for venture investment. The team works with early-stage startups looking for their first money in and prepares them to raise their first seed round. This is done by offering early-stage funding, entrepreneur-in-residence support, enhanced pitch coaching, graphic design services and an emphasis on increasing traction. Startup Foundry supports two pitch competitions. The Black and Gold Awards invest $30,000 (Black Award) and $100,000 (Gold Award) in Purdue-affiliated startups. Ag-Celerator invests up to $100,000 into Purdue-affiliated startups with connections to the agriculture industry. Investments are awarded each semester. Startup Foundry also works closely with Purdue Ventures to support its portfolio companies and ensure coaching and advice mirrors what the investor network needs.

Writer/Media contact: Steve Martin, sgmartin@prf.org

Sources: Tyler Mantel, tmmantel@prf.org

Justin Renfrow, jdrenfrow@prf.org

Nick Gunady, nick@aerovymobility.com

Duncan Mulgrew, dmulgrew@uniformsierra.com

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