Whisper Aero Takes Off with $32 Million in Series A Funding to Advance Electric Jet Age

The startup’s mission is to lead the electric jet age by delivering the next generation of cleaner, quieter, and more efficient thrust for drones, aircraft, and other aerospace applications.

By Marielle Catral

May 24, 2023

Whisper Aero, a Tennessee-based aerospace company, has announced a successful Series A funding round that raised $32 million. The investment was led by a syndicate of Menlo Ventures, EVE Atlas, Capricorn’s Technology Impact Fund, and Connor Capital, with follow-on participation by Kindred Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Moving Capital, AeroX Ventures, Cosmos Ventures, Linse Capital, and LaunchTN.

Founded by industry veterans Mark Moore and Ian Villa, Whisper Aero continues to innovate a future that’s as considerate as it is compelling with its world-class team in Tennessee. With this Series A funding, Whisper Aero is well-positioned to deliver on its mission and vision of leading the electric jet age.

“We realized there was an opportunity to build a propulsion company around this need for quieter and more efficient propulsion. Step changes in flight have always been preceded by step changes in propulsion.” Whisper Aero’s COO Ian Villa said, “We think our innovations are the step changes the industry needs to shepard the next era in electric flight for drones and aircraft at all sizes.”

The startup’s mission is to lead the electric jet age by delivering the next generation of cleaner, quieter, and more efficient thrust for drones, aircraft, and other aerospace applications. The company has assembled a world-class team with past experience at NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Joby Aviation, Kitty Hawk, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls Royce. Many team members have earned advanced degrees from top-tier universities like MIT, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and others.

Whisper Aero’s breakthrough technology is a next-generation electric ducted fan (EDF) optimized for lowest noise and highest efficiency. Unlike most companies, which sacrifice efficiency to reduce noise, Whisper Aero has carefully considered every component of its propulsor, examining all sources of noise critically and tailoring each source’s acoustical content to the way that humans hear. The result is an EDF that not only produces ultra-low noise but also more than 20% improvements in efficiency when compared to other ducted fans.

“At Whisper, we knew we needed to prove out the first principles of our next-generation electric ducted fan before fully fleshing out our path to commercialization.” Ian added, “We had to know how much more efficient and quiet we could be compared to “state-of-the-art” in order to determine which products we should be prioritizing.”

After completing the initial research and development activities, Whisper Aero was able to focus on product development. While they remain committed to exploring new innovations, they are constantly experimenting with how to strategically align these advancements with the immediate needs of their products.

Whisper Aero’s EDF is a highly specialized design with a low tip speed yet an ultrasonic blade passage frequency (BPF). The company has developed many layers of intellectual property (IP) across the propulsor through nine generations of design, build, and tests. Whisper Aero has also developed a highly specialized computational framework that enables the company to quickly and accurately develop new EDFs for customers.

Whisper Aero has validated its technology through numerous contracts and agreements with the US Department of Defense (DoD), including the US Air Force, US Special Operations Command, and the US Army. The company has flown a 55 lb drone with its EDF at approximately 200′ and not heard the drone on the ground as it flies over in level, sustained thrust.

The company plans to scale its technology up and down for multiple aerospace applications, starting with higher DoD propulsors for drones that may fly as early as this year. The company aims to weave its technology into the fabric of everyday life for a future that’s as considerate as it is compelling. Whisper Aero sees its technology layering into commercial aircraft and consumer leaf blowers as it continues to innovate.

Ian gave valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking to innovate in the challenging industry of aerospace, “Aerospace, hardware, and deep tech is tough! Building a foundation of strong technical knowledge and solid first principles is absolutely essential to being able to navigate the complexities of hardware on top of all of the other startup and regulatory challenges founders will inevitably face.”