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Coeur d’Alene drone startup xCraft recognized by U.S. Senate committee

From staff reports

A Coeur d’Alene drone startup has been named Small Business of the Month by U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The Idaho Republican recognized xCraft Enterprises, which builds and sells several models of small, powerful, long-range drones for hobbyists and commercial customers. One of its drones carries and uses a smartphone.

The company was co-founded by CEO JD Claridge, an aerospace engineer who grew up in Spokane Valley and formerly worked at Sandpoint-based Quest Aircraft. Claridge developed a quad-copter design that allows the aircraft to fly like a helicopter or plane up to 60 mph and an altitude of 10,000 feet.

In 2015 the company raised $1.5 million from all five celebrity investors on the ABC TV show “Shark Tank.” Additional funding came from crowdsourcing campaigns. The business moved from Sandpoint to Coeur d’Alene last year.

“Idaho is home to a burgeoning technology industry, thanks to a number of impressive innovators who bring their entrepreneurial spirit and innovations to our state,” Risch said Tuesday in a statement.

The unmanned aerial vehicles by xCraft “add immense value to a diverse number of industries that rely on this technology, and they continue to be a leader in this space,” he added.

xCraft will be recognized in the Congressional Record of the U.S. Senate as the committee’s January small business of the month.

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