Client Spotlight – Roboteurs
by Innovation Factory (www.innovationfactory.ca)
Roboteurs is an education robotics company developing robots for students at all levels of learning. They develop 3D Printed robots for high school and early post secondary students, as well as more advanced robotics including a pick and place delta robot and an off-road rover. The company is always looking for new ways to improve their products, and to teach students the exciting field of robotics!
We chatted with Justin Policarpio – one half of the dynamic Roboteurs team – about his company, the future of Roboteurs and how awesome it is to make robots. Here’s what he had to say!
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR COMPANY?
Reiner and I met through both of us working for a tech based startup company. Reiner mainly on the technical development side and myself on the business development. Reiner has always been passionate about automation and robotics and in his spare time he would literally make robots in his basement. Both Reiner and I have an interest in education and its evolution, so when I saw some of the robots Reiner was working on, we saw the perfect fit for our company – education robotics.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF WHAT YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
Seriously?…we make robots. What could be cooler than that?!
Seriously though, we love to see the excitement in students, and sometimes even more so, in teachers’ eyes when we show them a new product that gives them hands-on learning and is just fun to use.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART?
The challenge with any hardware company, versus software, is that it takes money to make money. Scaling is always difficult. Whereas an app can have 1 sale on Monday and 1,000 sales on Tuesday, for a hardware business you’re always thinking about inventory, costs of manufacturing, currency exchange rates for vendors, and the overhead costs of building in house. Though these are challenges, we’ve always been able to create strategies around them as they come up.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?
We never have an issue selling robots to our recurring customers, but when those special moments come where a complete stranger buys one of our robots, or we start to hear and notice our name being talked about offline and online, we know we’re starting to make an impact; we’re growing in name, brand, and credibility – those are successful moments for us.
WHAT IS THE BEST RECOGNITION YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Recently we were reached out to by Texas Instruments, the third largest manufacturer of semiconductors worldwide after Intel and Samsung. They simply reached out to us because they saw and loved our 3D Printed robot (Print-A-Bot) ARM and wanted to feature and promote the product in their booth at the Maker Faire in California in May of 2015.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND?
Global domination…*ahem*…Sorry…we’re not Skynet. We promise
The next year and beyond is a hard question only because the field of robotics is advancing so rapidly, and so it leaves us in a flux to discover what products we’ll be bringing to schools and the hacking community at home. Currently our Print-A-Bot line has gained a lot of attention and we have a lot of ideas for further models (3D printed drones anyone?), but again, it always comes back to the customer and what they want and what we can make for them.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS OR STUDENTS STUDYING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN YOUR FIELD?
I would say learn in and out of school. The hard skills are the ones you learn in life, such as independence, motivation, ambition, and overall drive. You need to be put in a place where those skills will be developed, and that’s usually based on working on a passion project. The core knowledge (in our case Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math…or STEM) are what’s going to make you stand out in your field. I consider Reiner a wizard when he works on his development, but that’s only because he’s been doing it for many years and he loves it so much. What he learned in school is only a fraction of what he learned by himself.
WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU FROM YOUR COMPETITION?
There’s benefit to being a small company, in our case 2 people. You can pivot on a dime and make decisions quickly and without hesitation. For example, we decided to do a Kickstarter campaign and within 24 hours we created one and made it live online. Also, Reiner and I are both full of energy and understand each other – it’s important to have that kind of partnership and relationship when starting a company with someone else, and sometimes it’s overlooked with other companies.
WHY IS HAMILTON THE HOME FOR YOUR COMPANY?
We both love this city. I was born and raised here. I’ve always had aspirations to leave, but to be honest I’ve grown to love it here. The people are awesome, there’s great opportunity and support for startups.
Also, Burnt Tongue (@Theburnttongue)
HOW CAN WE CONNECT WITH YOU (website, social media, etc)?