“I love creating stuff. You can be a painter, you can be a poet, but you can also be an engineer or a software developer. “
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You are the definition of an engineer. Tell me a bit about how you think through this character.
I just like to create stuff. You can be a painter, you can be a poet, but you can also be an engineer or a software developer. As long as you create, for me that’s the fun part. Today, I mainly manage. Flytrex as a whole is creating something that could potentially make a dent in the world.
Take me back to the days of your army and tell me about Mahanet.
During my military service, I was a fighter in a special forces unit of the artillery corps. After that, I joined, as a student, the Prime Minister’s office. We visited Yossi Vardi’s Kinnernet and said we wanted to do the same kind of camp. He told us, “There was another guy here from a different branch of PMO and an Air Force commander here. Why don’t you all get together and create something for all of these guys?
This is how we formed Mahanet. In the end, Mahanet is a creativity camp. Your entry ticket is a clever and useless project. Why useless? Basically we want to allow creativity. We want you to learn and experience new things that you usually don’t do. You can return to your unit with new skills. This multidiscipline really helps. The idea is for you to have fun, think outside the box, learn something new and meet people as creative and crazy as you are so that you know you are not alone in the bigger picture. Israel system.
What does Mahanet look like?
It has been called the theme park for engineers. It’s a three day event. You barely sleep. You have hundreds of people on teams. We had a water slide simulator and a jetpack above the pool. We have small projects, like a small computer where the logical units were based on water rather than electronics. We had a team that built a toilet that follows you.
At the beginning, it was really difficult, not only to get the budget of the different units but also to get a few days from their best people. And also to explain this is not a trophy for the best project. This is a creativity camp to empower your most creative people.
Fast forward to Beresheet, one of Israel’s greatest achievements.
For me, it was a way to make an impact on the world, when it comes to space exploration, and on Israel, with our educational program. SpaceIL is a non-profit educational organization. In the 1960s, there was the Apollo effect. This has prompted children to engage in science, technology, and engineering in increasing numbers. For us, that was one of our main goals. It is already affecting children.
SpaceIL started because of Mahanet. In 2010, my project was a tag that sends your ID and receives the ID from everyone else nearby. Then I said, “What do I want to do for next year? I thought about building a rocket, launching it to the edge of space, and freeing a little plastic spaceship. A friend said, “Yariv, you don’t think big enough. I said, “What are you talking about? Go to the moon?” That night I registered the domain name spaceil.com and posted on Facebook: “Who wants to go to the moon?” C that’s how we started.
How does it feel to work for years on what was a moment?
I didn’t cry when the spaceship crashed. For me it was an amazing trip. It was like going to the Olympics for the first time and getting a silver medal. I wouldn’t want to spend my days any other way. As someone put it, “If you can find someone to pay for your hobby, it becomes a job.”
With Flytrex, you will actually change the world in a truly meaningful way.
Flytrex involves delivering dinner or an iPhone to a family in the suburbs. This is what we do. We are talking about high volumes, many deliveries, short distances and low margins. I have to make deliveries for five dollars.
It’s a very interesting engineering point because you can’t use the consumer drone and just fly it. We must be certified by FAA and Civil Commercial Type Certification. It’s the same kind of certification that Boeing Airbus has. So we certify aviation vehicles as Boeing to make $ 5 deliveries. Solving this is a lot of fun. You can do drone deliveries today for a hundred dollars, $ 500, that’s easy. We are building a system that would be self-sufficient enough that an operator would only have to press the green button.
Your famous quote, “If you have a driver’s license, you are overqualified to operate our drone.”
If you think about it, driving a one-ton car at 80 km / h on the road, sneezing at the wrong time, or your attention is distracted, you could end up in a car accident. Our drones are just robots. They keep doing what they are doing. They just work over and over again in the same way as expected.
You have shown us hundreds of parts that make up the drone. Each must be approved by the FAA. You cannot exceed the complexity of this project.
Four years ago, we made backyard deliveries in Iceland, flying over the city, beyond visual line of sight, using a standard commercial drone. From there to the nationally certified system by the FAA, it takes four to five years. As we progress, it’s not going to get any easier. It’s just going to get more difficult. Ultimately, aviation is so safe these days. And it’s in everyone’s best interests to make sure it stays as safe as it is today.
How will the world be different once Flytrex hits the market?
We envision a future of instant gratification. Today when you log into Amazon all you have to do is click and you get it the next day. Drones offer the same kind of experience but on demand.
So if I need tomatoes for dinner or a bottle of wine buy now. I just saw an ad for the new iPhone, click buy now, and in 15 minutes it will be in your backyard. Once you take the cost of the request below a certain threshold, companies can offer the service almost free of charge. Thus, the end customer does not have to think about the delivery costs or even the courier. Our drones do not have cameras on board, so no privacy concerns.
I have three funny questions. Favorite subject in college or high school?
My favorite moment was when I realized that if I gave up physics I only had three school days a week and I could play Command & Conquer and Civilization. That was my state of mind at the time, and my parents were okay with that.
Someone who inspires you?
My first was my grandfather. He was a textile engineer in Hungary. During the Holocaust, the Nazis took 300 engineers out of conscription camps to work on V1 and V2 rockets. Of these 300, less than a hundred survived. Later he went back there and they visited them, so he made peace with Germany.
Three words you would use to describe yourself?
Engineer, creator, enthusiasm.
Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is the author of Age is Only an Int: Lessons I Learned as a Young Entrepreneur. He studied artificial intelligence at Stanford University, while working as a software engineer at Hippo Insurance and as a senior partner at J-Ventures. Matias previously served as an Officer in Unit 8200. 20MinuteLeaders is a tech entrepreneurship interview series featuring one-on-one interviews with fascinating founders, innovators and thought leaders sharing their backgrounds and experiences.
Editors: Michael Matias, Megan Ryan