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RobotLaunch startups take note! Sage advice from the experts at Robots2014

May 16, 2014

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It’s just a few days until the RobotLaunch Finals on May 20, where our remaining six teams will battle it out in front of a live panel of judges. So we thought we’d recap some of the expert advice we gleaned from the speakers at the Robots2014 event at MIT last month to help our startups prepare. Co-organized with Swissnex Boston, the event brought researchers, startups and VCs together under one roof. Here are some of our favourite sound bites from the ‘Imagination to Market’ event:

On filling a need

“One question people don’t ask enough is: why do I need a robot to solve this problem?”

-Chris Moehle, National Robotics Engineering Center – CMU

“Business doesn’t get excited about complex things – they get excited about simple things that solve problems.”

– Daniel Theobald, Vecna @Vecna_Tech

On attracting investors

“Four things matter to every VC:
1) World Class Team
2) Big Problem
3) Great Traction
4) Bold Vision.”

– Ben Einstein, Bolt @BenEinstein@BoltBoston

“People often have a hard time talking about the benefits to the customer instead of talking about the technology.”

– Elaine Chen, Martin Trust Center, MIT @chenelaine@EshipMIT

“You want to avoid taking VC investment as long as you can. The further you get on your own, the more you will retain.”

– Daniel Theobald, Vecna @Vecna_Tech

“A disagreement with your VCs can set you back a year. Make sure you are on the same page.”

– Miriam Bekouche, Indiegogo @miriam_leia@Indiegogo

On pathways market

“Going out and talking to people is what tells you whether you have a product that can get to market. Think of commercialization while you’re doing your research. And do it early.”

– Chris Moehle, National Robotics Engineering Center, CMU

“Successful commercialization hinges on thinking of robots as a new media platform through which companies will place recognized brands into the home.”

– Cynthia Breazeal, MIT Media Lab @medialab

On patents

“Your first problem isn’t that someone is going to steal your idea, it’s getting people to use your idea at all.”

– Kate Darling, MIT Media Lab @grok_

“Patents are expensive and hard.”

“The actual value of a patent is incredibly difficult to pinpoint, but the perceived value of a patent can be important.”

-Ben Einstein, Bolt @BenEinstein@BoltBoston

On liability

“One of the major concerns that startups should have is liability. That’s the big issue.”

 – Kate Darling,  MIT Media Lab @grok_

On crowdfunding

“There are so many different points at which crowdfunding can be helpful. It’s  not just a great way to get dollars, it’s a great way to get feedback on your product. ”

“A good time to crowdfund is about 6 months before you’re ready to go into production.”

– Miriam Bekouche, Indiegogo @miriam_leia@Indiegogo

“One use of crowdfunding is as a vehicle to test acceptance and interest. With crowdfunding you are testing a prototype, not selling a product, so it’s a great way to get around regulatory issues.”

– Elaine Chen, Martin Trust Center, MIT @chenelaine@EshipMIT

On manufacturing

“They call it HARDware for a reason.”

-Ben Einstein, Bolt @BenEinstein@BoltBoston

See video footage and tweets from the Robot14 event.

ROBOTS14

 

Hallie Siegel robotics editor-at-large.. read more


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