xCraft is a company that makes drones. Its founders are aerospace engineer JD Claridge and software developer Charles Manning. The duo marketed their invention the xCraft as the future of unmanned drones.
The company today is manufacturing various drones for enterprise as well as defense clients.
The model that the cofounders were displaying in the Shark Tank episode was the X PlusOne – a remote-controlled hybrid drone capable of ascending 10,000 feet and flying at a maximum speed of 60 mph.
A drone camera is fitted into the model so that you can record videos on the fly to speak. The drone flight time is around 20 minutes. Flight time will go down though if you choose to race it at higher speeds.
The firm xCraft seeks to bring innovation to the drone sector by manufacturing powerful, feature-rich drones of compact dimensions that boast high performance and exceptional flight characteristics.
Founders Charles Manning and JD Claridge had founded the firm back in 2014 following a meeting where they discussed their shared passion for drones and entrepreneurship. Since drones were becoming popular, the two had decided to make their high-end models with which to capture a lucrative market share in the growing drone sector.
Are They Still an Active Company?
They are still an active company. However, they do not retail anymore. Their customers include corporate, government, and defense-related clients. Presumably, the retail sector may not have been as lucrative as the others, which is understandable considering the kind of specialized and sophisticated product that they are dealing with. Hence, they have aimed for other avenues. And this tactic seems to have paid off.
xCraft founders never got to close the deal with the Sharks. However, this never stood in the way of their success. They are now successfully supplying drones to enterprise and defense organizations.
Their valuation currently stands at around $17 million which is much higher compared to their $6 million worth during the Shark Tank appearance.
They had launched a Kickstarter campaign that was meant to raise $100,000 for the phone drone that they were planning to develop. They managed well over that amount – $170,000. They have received equity funding from different venture capitalists such as Mountain Man Ventures and Meyer Equity. Additionally, they have also received over a million dollars from their StartEngine campaign. Hence, the firm appears to be growing by leaps and bounds with time.
How Did the Shark Tank Pitch Go?
The Sharks and the xCraft founders agreed to an investment of $1.5 million for a 25 percent share in the company. Since all the Sharks had decided to invest, they would each be entitled to a 5 percent share in the firm for a $300,000 investment. However, the deal never materialized.
Our Review of xCraft
We were lucky to get our hands on the xCraft drone that was featured on the show and try it out. This is a hybrid VTOL model that sounds good in theory. But how well it performed in actuality is another matter.
Some assembly was required to get the drone ready. We put it together in around half an hour. The radio also needed setting up. So we programmed that too.
The drone itself is interesting to look at. What stands out are the decals present on the frame. The frame itself is constructed from quite a rigid material. Another notable feature of the xCraft is the APM technology.
Conventional control surfaces are not present in the xCraft. It begins flying in the quadcopter mode. You then have to work the switch using the radio. It will then transition into the VTOL mode at which point it flies like a plane.
The budget radio proved to be underwhelming despite the relatively dear price tag. Much of its tech appears to be off-the-shelf like Turnigy parts, its motors, and the Multistar ESCs.
There was just one gimbal available for the GoPro mount. Hence there was no other option besides choosing one direction which the camera would face. As you may have guessed, this FPV is rather hard. The resultant video also has some unsteadiness due to the movement and thus appears a bit shaky.
The xCraft tended to drift in the hover mode. However, after transitioning to VTOL mode, the xCraft flight was rather decent. But due to the absence of control surfaces, flying this thing was still tricky.
To its credit, the xCraft provided an illustrated guide to direct assembly and flight control. Putting it together is also a cinch. The hovercraft mode works fair enough and the whole thing looks fascinating.
However, there was no programming so we had to do it ourselves. Flying this plane is somewhat tricky since it is devoid of control surfaces. And the aircraft proved unsteady under the onslaught of strong winds.
- nicely illustrated guide
- switches easily between flight modes
- easy to assemble
- shaky video
- unsteady under high winds
Who is xCraft for?
The xCraft is no longer available for sale. It was originally geared towards the retail sector. However, it faced issues like high price points, unsteady flight, and shaky video.
Are There Any Alternatives?
There are several alternatives in the highly competitive drone market.
DEERC D20 Mini Drone
DJI Mini SE
Holy Stone HS190 Foldable Mini Nano RC Drone
Our Final Thoughts
The xCraft review above gave you a fair idea of what to expect from this drone. However, the brand is now making drones for enterprise and defense customers only.