Navier raises $7.2 million in seed capital to build next gen marine vessels in US

Navier is announcing a $7.2M seed raise to build the boats of the future. Co-founded by MIT alumni Sampriti Bhattacharyya, PhD (CEO) and Reo Baird (CTO), Navier is building a new type of watercraft that cuts running costs by 90%. Navier’s approach combines hydrofoils, electrification, advanced composites and an intelligent software system. By unlocking an order-of-magnitude reduction in the cost of operating watercraft, Navier aims to enable a whole new category of waterborne transportation that was never before possible.

Navier founders Reo Baird and Sampriti Bhattacharyya
Co-founded by MIT alumni Sampriti Bhattacharyya, PhD (CEO) and Reo Baird (CTO), Navier is building a new type of watercraft

SEED FUNDING ROUND

Navier, a Bay Area-based start-up building electric hydrofoiling watercraft, is announcing a $7.2M seed raise. The seed round was co-led by Global Founders Capital and Treble, a new fund run by Daniel Gulati, the former MD of Comcast Ventures. Participants in the funding round include Next View Ventures, Liquid2 Ventures, Soma Capital, Precursor Ventures, as well as angel investors like Charlie Songhurst, Josh Lee, Yida Gao, Kent Ho and David Jen, among others.

MARINE ELECTRIFICATION

Boats are going electric and in recent times there have been a few venture backed start-ups working on marine electrification. But the biggest struggle in public adoption is the limited range for electric boats. By using electric hydrofoiling technology, the boats built by Navier eliminate the high hydrodynamic drag and aim to be the longest-range electric vessels on the market at high speeds, achieving a 75 nm range at 20kn.

“Navier is much more than an electric upgrade. We are fundamentally rethinking the boat as we know it. Hydrofoils not only allow electric boats to attain a practical range at high speeds, but they drastically reduce the operational cost of a vessel by a factor of 10X when compared to traditional boats with combustion engines. In addition, they deliver a vastly superior ride quality that eliminates sea-sickness since you’re foiling over the waves,” said Sampriti Bhattacharyya, Co-Founder and CEO of Navier.

Navier is perfecting its core foil control technology with the Navier 27 (N27), a recreational vessel. However, Navier’s longer term vision is to expand into solving the pressing issue of congestion in coastal cities by building robotaxis on the water.

Navier 27 hull under construction
Navier is announcing a $7.2M seed raise to build the boats of the future

DEMOCRATISING THE WATERWAYS

Traditional fossil fuel-powered boats are almost 15 times more expensive to operate than a car, which is why we don’t see scalable use of boats for transportation. The cost comes from two key areas: fuel and labor. Navier’s long term goal is to operate robotaxis for congested coastal cities like San Francisco, New York, Miami, Seattle and others. The company plans to reduce fuel costs through electric hydrofoil technology and labor costs by making the boats autonomous.

“Human civilization was historically built around our waterways and today 46% of the world lives in coastal cities that are heavily congested. If we can build a zero-emission marine craft that competes in cost, speed and convenience to land-borne options, we will open up a whole new mode of clean, scalable transportation for coastal cities that was never possible before, and without the need for cost prohibitive infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels. We are effectively democratizing the waterways for the next generation through sustainable technology,” said Bhattacharyya.

TEAM WITH A RARE PEDIGREE

The marine space has seen a major uptick in venture funding lately, particularly since the pandemic gave buyers an extra boost of motivation to upgrade their lifestyles with new vessels. But few companies can claim the pedigree of Navier, with its crack core team of specialists bringing a wide range of expertise from engineering, robotics, aerospace and competitive sailing on a world-class level.

“Hydrofoil craft are not new, but limitations in technology have restricted their performance and applicability. Hydrofoil craft are analogous to dynamically unstable aircraft, such as the F-35, so intelligent electronic control systems are required for flight. Solving this problem requires collaboration between experts in maritime, robotics and aerospace engineering to bring novel approaches to the challenges. Our team is developing a next-generation foil control system that will achieve unprecedented performance over a wide range of sea conditions,” added Reo Baird, Navier CTO.

Sampriti Bhattacharyya, PhD (CEO & Co-Founder): The PhD from MIT Mechanical Engineering specialized in autonomous marine robotics, and prior to that was an aerospace engineer who worked at NASA on flight controls. As an immigrant to the US, while initially working in a high-energy physics lab, Bhattacharyya discovered her passion for what she calls “solving complex engineering problems that fundamentally change how we perceive the world, thereby opening up new frontiers that weren’t previously available.”

Reo Baird (Co-Founder & CTO): An MIT engineer with a background in aerospace and computer science, Baird is a lifelong marine enthusiast who has owned more than 30 boats and logged over 10,000 ocean miles. Baird brings deep maritime domain expertise to the team.

Paul Bieker (Lead –Naval Architect): The renowned America’s Cup veteran has two decades’ experience creating the world’s most advanced and efficient racing boats, including specialist knowledge in hydrofoil configuration and foil optimization.

Kenny Jensen (Lead – Flight Control): A former flight control lead of Kitty Hawk, Uber ATG and formerly at Google[X], Jensen is also an MIT and UC Berkeley graduate.

EARLY TRACTION SHOWS PROMISE

“Navier brings electric propulsion, autonomy and network-driven mobility to the maritime category, an industry that has historically lacked both hardware and software innovation. What is most impressive is the founding team’s background. The team brings together an exceedingly rare mix of expertise in these seemingly disparate, yet crucial, areas. We are thrilled to back the team’s vision to create a win-win for consumers and the planet,” commented Treble’s Daniel Gulati, Navier investor and co-lead of the latest seed round.

Navier 27 aerial shot white
“We are fundamentally rethinking the boat as we know it”

Navier 27 sold out its first year of production (15 vessels) within two months of product announcement, and has a massive volume of inbound interest. Navier has also partnered with iconic boatbuilder Lyman-Morse to fulfill the first year of production for the Navier 27. The first two hulls of the model are currently under construction at the Lyman-Morse facility in Maine. The company plans to ramp up production to 400+ units by 2024, and prospective customers can sign up for a waitlist to reserve the 2024 boats via the Navier website.

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