Canvas Co-Founder/CTO Maria Telleria Makes the Inc. 2022 Female Founders 100 List

Construction Dive

Canvas, which recently went national with its game-changing drywall finishing robot, is proud to announce that the company’s Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Maria Telleria, has been named to the Inc. 2022 Female Founders 100 List.

The prestigious list, now in its fifth year, honors a group of bold women entrepreneurs who the magazine calls inspiring, creative, tenacious and trailblazing. The Inc. Female Founders 100 celebrates this year’s honorees for their accomplishments across a wide range of industries – including construction tech, finance, biotech and pharmaceuticals, consumer products, entertainment, healthcare, and more. The honorees’ companies collectively are estimated to be worth around $22 billion.

“Receiving the Inc. 2022 Female Founders 100 award is a great honor,” said Telleria, “but more importantly it’s recognition for the ingenious team at Canvas, who has spent the past five years developing a drywall finishing robot that improves construction industry outcomes for safety, quality, schedule and budget, while also making the work better and safer for the country’s hard-working drywall finishing professionals.”

This year’s national deployment of the worker-operated Canvas machine, which can complete the mudding and sanding of drywall in up to 40% less time than manual processes, comes at a critical time for the construction industry. According to recent data published by the Associated General Contractors of America, up to 91% of general contractors say they cannot find enough skilled labor to complete their jobs.

Canvas helps mitigate the chronic and growing construction industry workforce shortage by taking on some of the toughest tasks of drywall finishing.  Hand-applying multiple layers of joint compound (or mud), then sanding each layer to a smooth finish, is both a hard-earned skill and an art. It’s also tremendously tough on the body. Drywall finishers often inhale dangerous dust particulates, they are prone to repetitive motion injuries (which one in four drywall finishers will develop over their career), and they risk accidental falls from doing “high work.” 

The Canvas machine does some if not the majority of the mudding and sanding portions of a construction project’s drywall finishing scope. Using the machine protects workers’ from musculoskeletal injuries, minimizes their risk of falls (since the robot’s arm can telescope), and shields them from dust inhalation by vacuum-capturing 99.9% of the particulate created during the sanding process.

“Working with the technology team at Canvas is an incredible honor,” says Telleria. “In five years’ time, this team [which includes software and hardware engineering departments, as well as the company’s product, process and field teams] has taken a concept, proved it out and continually made it more valuable to its users. We now have a reliable and operational robot that is making drywall finishing less difficult, faster and safer.”

Telleria explains just how hard it is to design a construction robot. “This is not like designing a robot for a manufacturing environment,” she adds. “The Canvas team designed, built and deployed a robot for the construction environment, which is not only unique to every site, but also dynamic and ever-changing during each project. Using the latest lidar and other software technologies, our team has created a robust machine that can sense its environment while offering state-of-the-art safety features. That’s an amazing accomplishment, of which everyone at Canvas should be immensely proud.”

Before Canvas, Telleria was a company lead at Otherlab, an independent research laboratory focused on developing “hard tech” ideas from research to product. At Otherlab, she oversaw three large scale government grants and two commercial development programs aimed at developing a new class of compliant robotic systems for unstructured environments. She secured multi-million-dollar grants from agencies like NASA, DARPA, and the Office of Naval Research. 

Telleria is the lead author on eight patents and five patent applications related to Canvas systems and is a co-inventor on an additional three patents related to pneumatic robots. 

Prior to joining Otherlab, Telleria worked at MIT Lincoln Laboratory on the design of next generation data systems.  Maria holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. Her dissertation established the field of cylindrical compliant mechanisms. While at MIT she co-founded the MIT Grad Catalyst Program with the mission to give minority students the tools and information required to pursue advanced degrees in science and technology.

“These 100 female founders have identified solutions to difficult problems and created valuable, industry-changing companies out of them. We congratulate this year’s list on their achievements and look forward to their continued success,” says Inc. Editor-in-Chief Scott Omelianuk.  


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