From Athens to Silicon Valley via… drone

By Endeavor Greece Dec 8, 2020

He wanted to be an inventor since he was little, and in his dreams could fly well beyond the Greek borders. Andreas Raptopoulos, forty-six years old, founder of Matternet and pioneer in the drone delivery industry, can “fly” today well over the rooftops of the world from his offices in Silicon Valley. 

How did it all start? As he himself explains at the podcast series “Outliers” of Endeavor Greece, whose media partner is “Money Review,” he grew up in Vyronas, a suburban town in the southeastern part of Athens. He could see the Acropolis from his balcony, and having this view in mind he used to think that it would be great to build something new for the generations to come.” This thought generated the feeling that he should operate on an international, and not on a local level. Another stimulus were the images of the starving children of Ethiopia, that were broadcast on TV. And exactly this thought, the thought of eliminating hunger, would define his future steps. 

The education path of Andreas Raptopoulos goes through public institutions. He studied at the University of Patras, at the department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics, where he found another source of inspiration; the professor Vassilis Kostopoulos. This is a statement that the professor made to his students at the very first lecture: “You should come here to study bearing in mind that your field of action is not only Greece, but the whole world.”

Having excelled in his studies, he received a scholarship from the Onassis and the Goulandris Foundation to continue his studies in London. It was there that he made the breakthrough. He chose to study at an art college. “Why?” “I wanted to understand how one sets up a product from scratch,” he says.

However, it was not only his studies that helped him move forward, but also his involvement in sports. By participating in the Greek National U19 Handball team, he learned what it takes to climb to the top, but most importantly how teams work. Knowing a lot about the psychology of teamwork he managed to build his own company.

He founded his first company in London. “It was the worst place to start a technology company,” he points out. He used to live in London, but his field of action was the USA. This is how he came to Silicon Valley and entered the field of drone delivery, which he believes will become mainstream in the next 5-10 years. 

Today Matternet works with UPS, the world’s largest delivery company delivering medication and blood samples, as well as with Swiss Post, the national postal service of Switzerland. It has attracted 30M$ investments from major companies, including Boeing, Daimler and Sony. 

He has been making plans for Greece, which is a mountainous country with numerous islands. The next vehicle of the company, which is expected to be operational in 2-3 years, will be flexible enough to move among the islands. By the same time period, Matternet hopes to have built its first remote team in Greece, that will be responsible for writing code. This is because our country has a lot of talented people in this field. 

The article was originally published at moneyreview.gr
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