Sandpoint drone developers plunging into the Shark Tank Friday

Sandpoint drone developers plunging into the Shark Tank Friday


Grace Ditzler,


A North Idaho company’s new product is creating such a buzz the producers of ABC’s Shark Tank contacted the company to appear on Friday night’s episode.

The Sandpoint-based company xCraft will present its X PlusOne drone on Shark Tank to more than nine million viewers. The patent-pending drone is unlike anything on the market.

“It flies like an airplane,” explained inventor JD Claridge.

Claridge has a background in aerospace engineering, and he and his business partner Charles Manning — the CEO of mobile analytics technology company Kochava — founded xCraft last September.

Their drone can take off and land vertically, then flip sideways like an airplane, allowing it to fly at speeds up to 60 miles per hour.

“For a commercial use or something like that, you could do mapping faster, if you were doing delivery, delivery drones, you could get to where you’re going a lot faster,” Claridge said.

Support of the x PlusOne has taken off.

“On Kickstarter, it did very well,” Claridge explained. “We were able to raise about 300 percent of our goal.”

That successful campaign caught the attention of an unexpected group.

“The producers of Shark Tank actually saw us on Kickstarter and contacted us,” Claridge said.

Claridge couldn’t reveal the details of what the Sharks think of the product.

“It was a new experience for me for sure,” said Claridge. “Pitching the company to five billionaires on national television is kind of intimidating, but it was an exciting experience for sure.”

Claridge is excited for what the exposure will do for the company. Currently, xCraft is made up of just three people: Claridge, employee Alex Kaiser, and business partner Charles Manning. They make the drones in their office in Sandpoint, but have big dreams for the future.

“Having the ability to be better known as a company is going to help with bringing on talent and hiring new people and being able to expand our products and just grow the company,” Claridge said.

And this is just the beginning for xCraft. Soon, they plan to launch a drone that can fly your smart phone.

To learn more about xCraft, click here. To learn more about the phone drone, click here.

Shark Tank airs Fridays at 9 pm on KXLY ABC 4.