George Matus just graduated from high school in May, but he’s going to skip college – he’s been awarded a $100,000 Thiel fellowship to pursue his innovation instead – and he already knows what his first “real” job will be. His drone business launches today, after raising $2.8 million in seed funding.
The company is called Teal, and it sells what it describes as “the world’s fastest production drone.” The product is a battery-operated, camera-equipped drone that can reach 70 mph. The $1,299 drone will ship early next year; you can pre-order it today. Matus says that the drone is the product of his own wish list for a drone: compact, fast, and stable.
At 18, Matus has an almost unbelievable resume for a droner. His obsession with drones and robotics means he’s been flying for 7 years – that’s since he was 11. He got his first drone job, as a drone test pilot for a hobby store, while still in middle school, he told Fortune magazine. Last year, he competed in the ABC show BattleBots (a contest of fighting robots). And now he’s raised $2.8 million in seed funding and built a company of 15 employees and contract workers.
Teal says that their signature drone has flown up to 85 mph under some conditions, and is stable in winds up to 40 mph and water-resistant. Built in the U.S., the initial features will include command & control and a “Follow-Me” app, co-developed with Neurala to use advanced image recognitions to precisely follow a specific person. The Racing app will allow pilots to race against other Teal users in a social app setting: recording flights; playing challenges; and moving up a leaderboard.
While the initial offering may be more focused on recreational use – after all, the drone was designed based on the dreams of an 18-year old- Matus hopes that Teal will be commercially used; the Teal website tells buyers considering potential applications for the drone to “Use your imagination!”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.