Munich, November 2023
Germany-based company ROBCO provides a modular robot kit, presenting a user-friendly, software-based automation solution for industrial manufacturing needs. Their innovation triumphed in the Industrial category at the 14th Innovation World Cup held during Hannover Messe 2023.
Our conversation with the RobCo team was truly enlightening. Now, let’s dive deeper into their path to success.
- HOW DID IT ALL START?
At Robco we produce an end-to-end software driven robotics platform, using modular
robots to radically rethink how SMBs make their products.We founded Robco in 2020, however it builds on the research results of over 7 years at the Chair of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Real-Time Systems at TU Munich. My two Co-founders Constantin, Paul and I were researching in the field of modular robotics – during our development process we had weekly feedback loops with who would later be Robco customers. Their intention was clear as day: instead of writing papers and doing more research, they wanted us to found the company and start producing a product they can actually use. They asked for an easily deployable, easy-to-use and affordable robot system, that would automate the jobs in the manufacturing sector, that simply wouldn’t be there in a couple of years, given the massive labour shortages we see in industrial economies. Turns out we were all quite right, looking at all current developments and how there have almost never been as many vacant jobs as there are today.When it came to deciding on a name, we wanted something as clear and holistic as our vision to radically rethink how SMBs make their products – and so we came up with Robco, an abbreviation for “The Robot Company”.
- WHAT ARE THE KEY MILESTONES YOU HAVE REACHED SO FAR?
After starting the company in 2020, for the first 18 months we were purely focusing on
R&D and obtaining the required certifications to commercially launch our robots. Robco
actually became the fastest robotics player to achieve ISO DIN 10218-1 certification,
which was a great success. Ever since, Robco has deployed hundreds of modules across
three continents, leading to low seven-digit revenues within the first 10 months of
commercialization. Within our last two years, we’ve raised about 18.5M USD from investors such as Sequoia Capital, who led our Series A. We’re currently in the midst of using that capital for our next phase of commercial growth within our core industries and geographies. As we’re 14th INNOVATION WORLD CUP SUCCESS STORYthe first company who developed a modular robot system globally, we believe that our combination of no-code software and rapidly deployable, reconfigurable and affordable robots are the key enabler to continue the strong growth trajectory of the last three years.
- WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED?
Having the grid of being an entrepreneur in that space is always challenging. As a
deeptech startup founder, I have learned that building a successful company is a
continuous learning process. It involves taking calculated risks, learning from mistakes,
and being agile in our approach. It boils down to the importance of having a strong team with diverse skills and perspectives, which is what we need to complete our mission. Personally, I think it is fine to “move fast and break things”. I would never change our commitment to innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in our industry. When it comes to giving advice I would give to other founders, I would advise them to focus on solving real-world problems that have a significant impact on society. This will help ensure that their products and services are relevant, and that they have a strong value proposition for their customers. Also, we really focused on one thing from early on: Building strong partnerships and networks with other companies, investors, and industry experts. This can help them access resources, gain valuable insights, and build credibility within their ecosystem. Overall, startups should be passionate, driven, and focused on making a positive impact on society and really believing in their purpose. They should be willing to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and be persistent in the pursuit of their goals.
- WHAT IS COMING IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
Of course there is a lot we have planned, but to be brief: we want to continue to execute on our vision to radically rethink how industrial SMBs make products. Having built our sales team and partner network, we stay heads-down to deploy further hundreds of modules, mostly in our home market. Simultaneously, our product team prepares us for expansion into further use cases and features.
5. DESCRIBE YOUR JOURNEY IN THE 14TH INNOVATION WORLD CUP® AND BEING THE WINNER OF THE SECURITY CATEGORY?
Participating in the Innovation World Cup® was a game-changer for Robco: The
competition was tough, and the judges were very discerning. However, the experience
gave us the opportunity to showcase our product, network with industry experts, and
learn from other techpreneurs.What impressed me most was the level of innovation and creativity displayed by the other participants. It was inspiring to see so many talented individuals and teams who are dedicated to bringing positive change to the world.My key takeaways from the Innovation World Cup® are the importance of staying focused, being resilient, and continuously learning. We must never give up on our dreams and must be willing to pivot and adapt as we navigate the challenges of
- YOUR THREE TIPS FOR UP-COMING STARTUPS
My number one tip is to build a strong value proposition: Start by developing a clear and compelling value proposition for your solution. This includes understanding the problem you are solving, the unique benefits of your solution, and how it differentiates from competitors. Clearly articulating your value proposition can help you stand out to
investors and judges in the Innovation World Cup® Series. After, focus on demonstrating market validation: Show that your solution has been validated in the market by customers, partners, or industry experts. This can be through pilots, beta tests, or customer testimonials. Demonstrating market validation can help build credibility and show investors that there is demand for your solution.
Last but not least, prioritize sustainability: Investors and consumers are increasingly
prioritizing sustainability. Incorporate sustainability into your business model by
considering the environmental and social impact of your solution. This can differentiate
you from competitors and attract socially responsible investors.
WE APPRECIATE THE FASCINATING INSIGHTS YOU’VE SHARED, AND WE EAGERLY ANTICIPATE WITNESSING YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVORS AND THE REMARKABLE STEPS YOU’LL MAKE AHEAD!
Visit Robco and explore their robot automation solution for industrial SMBs.
Participate in the 15th Innovation World Cup® across a diverse array of categories, including Industrial, Energy, Mobility, Security, City, Agriculture, Home, Lifestyle, and Sports. (For healthcare innovations, please consider the Healthcare Innovation World Cup®).