He may have only graduated high school in May, but entrepreneur George Matus is the founder and chief executive of a startup named Teal.
The drone maker officially launches today and its first UAV is now available for pre-order. The battery-operated, camera-equipped drone can hit top speeds of up to 70mph and retails for $1,299, writes Laura Entis for Forbes.
Young entrepreneur making rapid strides
When it ships in 2017 the drone will mark another important milestone for Matus. In the past twelve months he has raised $2.8 million in seed funding and pocketed $100,000 from Peter Thiel’s foundation in order to skip college. In between he could be seen on the ABC show BattleBots and built his company to include a team of 15 workers, all while still at school.
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“It’s been a steep learning curve,” Matus says. His obsession began after moving to a new house in Salt Lake City with a huge backyard where he could fly remote control aircraft, and he was soon modifying craft including a HorizonHobby helicopter.
The company ordered Matus to take down a video that he had posted of a modified helicopter flying upside down, but also offered him a job. In his capacity as a part time test pilot for the company, Matus was able to develop his own creations and hone his skills.
Teal drone product of years of work
“I built a wish list of everything I wanted in a drone,” he says of his time with the company. Matus then started a seed round with venture capitalist Mark Harris, who happened to be on his high school board.
Teal came about as a result of Matus’ wish to build his own perfect drone. The company’s first model will ship with a camera, a controller and three apps, which are command and control, follow-me and gaming. You can also control it using your smartphone.
As a Thiel Fellow, Matus will not attend college, meaning that he will be able to devote himself to drones full time. The young entrepreneur believes that the drone market is set to explode, with mainstream appeal bringing drones into daily life as personalized videographers and security guards. In summary he thinks that drones will help “us do our work more easily and live our lives better.”
Even the Federal Aviation Administration says that drone sales are set to double by 2020, but some people are worried about the proliferation of UAVs. There are concerns over privacy and safety, and regulators are struggling to keep up with developments.
Matus is used to challenges, having been rejected by 15-20 investors after a first round of meetings. After dealing with adversity and managing to overcome the obstacles in his path, he seems certain that the Teal drone will have a mass market appeal that will encourage more and more people to enjoy drone flights.
If Matus can convince people to share his passion for drones he could be onto a winner, and he definitely has heaps of passion. When asked to name his favorite moment from his blockbuster year, he chooses an unexpected moment when you consider the funding and awards he has received: an afternoon with his drone.
“The clouds were super low, and I went up close to the base of the mountains and was actually flying through the clouds, down the cliffs,” he says. “It was serene. You could see the details of the clouds as I was flying through them — it was amazing.”