Matternet Founder Paola Santana Wants To Replace The Postal System With Drones
Imagine a world where drones fly the skies - but the drones aren’t for warfare. Instead they’re delivering packages, leapfrogging traditional infrastructure to create a world connected by tiny, nonviolent drones. In the U.S., such drones could replace the aging postal system; in developing countries, the drones could connect rural communities to markets, alleviating poverty and delivering badly needed supplies and medicines.
Imagine that world - and imagine the woman trying to make it a reality. That’s Paola Santana, a former lawyer from the Dominican Republic, who founded the startup Matternet in 2011 with four other immigrant entrepreneurs. Her journey began when she got a scholarship to study with NASA and met three other scholars - Andreas Raptopoulos, Dimitar Pachov and Darlene Damm. The four decided to try to bring about major change. For Santana, it was like starting from scratch.
“I’m talking to you about 2010, two years ago, 1.5 years ago, I didn’t know this word entrepreneur, either in English or Spanish,” she recently recalled. “I didn’t understand what this word was talking about.”
Santana and her co-founders got their first break at Singularity University, where they were challenged to “come up with an idea that could solve a big world problem, using technology that could have an impact on over one billion people in 10 years.” They founded Matternet Inc. after developing the fundamental business concepts as part of a larger team, and received enthusiastic support from Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, both founders of the university.”