When Teal made its public debut in the drone industry back in 2016, the company generated a lot of buzz. It was unusual in a lot of ways: the company was one of the few drone manufacturers based in the U.S. (Teal is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah with a manufacturing facility in California). The initial Teal drone had a modular design with a focus on speed, with the company touting the fact that it could fly at over 70 mph. And one more unique detail: the founder at the time was a teenager.
Teal is led by George Matus, a then-18-year-old entrepreneur bursting with confidence that his ideas could take on other drone behemoths, namely DJI.
And today, two years after its launch, the company is finally ready to sell its flagship product, the Teal One.
A lot has happened to Teal in those two years. Immediately after the 2016 press tour, George Matus earned dozens of accolades, including a spot on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. The company grew from three employees in 2016 to about 30 employees today. It closed just over $16 million in venture capital funding. And it did a small release of a racing-focused drone that had some pared-down features of the Teal that was initially promised.
And within those two years, the drone that Matus initially promised back in 2016 went through a couple iterations, launching two years later as what Matus refers to as “version 3.0” of the Teal One.
Matus is now 21. He celebrated his 21st birthday as any responsible 21-year-old CEO should: he had a “nice dinner with family and went out to some bars in Park City.”
When Teal launched, Matus envisioned making the first drone that serves a universal platform by way of a modular drone capable of transforming into a variety of speciality use-cases. He envisioned the drone being able to add a thermal camera Another add-on module would give the drone sense-and-avoid capabilities via radar. The drone also flies at more than 70 mph, making it a sure bet for people wanting to get into drone racing.
“I’m making something capable of different use-cases, that can serve hobbyists, hard-core racers or commercial applications,” he said at the time.
Ultimately the company pivoted away from the universal platform idea for its first product and put the idea for the drone they first dreamed up (temporarily) to rest. It was partly because the technology just wasn’t ready yet, and because another opportunity in the drone racing industry came up. Teal had an opportunity to partner with drone racing group Rotor Riot to build a drone for them, which has been used in races by drone pilots including some of the Rotor Riot crew, Shaun Taylor (known in the FPV world as Nytfury) and Ashton Godfrey.
Teal ended up launching with pared-down version of the initial product announced in 2016, instead building a racing focused drone called the Teal Sport, which starts at about $500.
“It was a good opportunity to learn from (the Teal Sport) as we built the Teal One,” Matus said. “We put it out on the market in very low volumes. We learned how to market, ship it, support it.”
Matus wouldn’t say how many units they ended up shipping, but did say that the company sold through their first match of units.
And now, two years later, Teal is finally launching its flagship product, called the Teal One. The drone claims to be one of the fastest ready-to-fly drone with a top speed of 60 mph (and it can withstand wind resistance up to 40 mph). The drone promises flight tunings from slow and steady to fast and nimble, and choose from five flight modes including one-handed and voice control. A “bubble mode” is designed for beginners, essentially creating a geofencing around the drone that prevents it from flying outside of a small radius.
The drone will sell for $1,199, making it still twice as expensive as some of the leading competitors in the market, such as the DJI Spark.
But Matus says this drone is different, particularly with its modular design.
“If you are flying super fast, you can replace that part within a couple minutes or seconds,” he said. “You can upgrade capabilities over time. You have a set of base specs out of the box that you can improve upon.”
The company has plans to roll out new packages — some within the next few months — to capitalize on the modular design. A future endurance package could boost flight times by as much as 3x, Matus claims, while a racing package will make it easy to integrate with FPV goggles and low-latency video. Future modular designs could include better sensors, such as thermal cameras.
“Our biggest differentiator is the ability for Teal to get better overtime with the supercomputer, the modularity, the SDK,” Matus said.
The Teal One is expected to ship immediately. Here are detailed specs for the new Teal One drone:
NVIDIA TX1 supercomputer
PX4 based flight controller
Ambarella camera processor
15min flight time
60mph top speed
40mph wind resistance
GPS, 2x IMU, Altimeter, Magnetometer, Rangefinder, Current, Voltage, RPM, Temperature, Camera
720p live video stream
Advanced controls and telemetry
Video and augmented reality
Support for C, Swift & Java
Additional communication protocols available for System and PX4 Integration.
Arms – swappable arms/quick swap
Battery, top cover
Low noise signature
Flight Bubble of 300 feet that can be turned off or adjusted to give you a controlled flight area while you learn to fly
What do you think of the new Teal One drone? Is it something you would buy? Does it have a chance in the DJI-dominated drone industry? Leave a comment below!