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Robot Launchpad

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Robots in Depth is a new video series featuring interviews with researchers, entrepreneurs, VC investors, and policy makers in robotics, hosted by Per Sjöborg. In this interview, Andra Keay, director of Silicon Valley Robotics, talks about opportunities and challenges for robotics startups and how developments in the agricultural sector can aid consumer robots.

by   -   October 19, 2012

Is Robot Launchpad an accelerator or a hackerspace? Both. Right now we’re testing the viability of opening a robot hackerspace. Theoretically, this makes a lot of sense. I believe that the hackerspace and maker movement are fueling a resurgence of growth in hardware startups. Chris Anderson’s new book  Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, argues that we are seeing the third wave of the industrial revolution which started back in the 18th century.

by   -   October 8, 2012

I thought I’d document our somewhat unusual journey through lean startup methodology and robotics. I founded Robot Launchpad almost a year ago to test the assumption that robotics and lean went together, that startups were startups whether they were hardware or software, that Silicon Valley was the place to do it, and that growing my own startup was the best way to test all these assumptions.

 

by   -   August 22, 2012

Claire Delauney’s Botiful Kickstarter campaign is in its last hours and as she crosses the funded line, Claire shares with us some of her strategies and insights into running a successful Kickstarter. (SF Bay Area Robotics Meetup) No, it isn’t always easy or #botiful, but Claire’s tips include:

  • Have a captivating video with a clear message in the opening seconds.
  • Engage with audience via updates – extend your story.
  • Conversion rates are very low, so you have to reach beyond your own channels.
  • It takes 100s of attempts to get media/blog interest.
  • Be full time on your campaign, and in hindsight, also engage a PR specialist.

Jeremy Conrad, from Lemnos Labs, had some price point insights:

  • Add 40% margin to your max cost estimate to protect against unforeseen.

This is a great tip because many campaigns that I’ve seen operate on a “we only charge what we’ll need to manufacture”. Firstly, this doesn’t leave you with any margin when shit does happen, and potentially leaves you out of pocket or your backers without any rewards. Secondly, unless you only want to make one batch of your robot, how are you going to distribute in future?

Distributors need to have a margin on top of manufacture and if you set the public expectation of your price point below the final market price, then you aren’t an attractive distribution prospect. It’s not enough to think about how to fund the project. You have to think about how to manufacture and distribute afterwards, including packaging and branding, so that future products have some tie in.

I provided an introduction to the Meetup with some Kickstarter “robot” project statistics, which I’ve scraped from their site. I’ll share a full post later on but in brief:

  • 50% projects are unsuccessful
  • Kickstarter is a long tail business – drop off in $ raised from 1st to 10th is huge.
  • Majority of projects are about $3000-$4000
  • Average pledge is $80ish but median pledge is closer to $30
So, although the eyes of the world are on the stellar projects who earn $millions (and they are largely hardware or real stuff projects!), most of the action is in the tail end and rewards don’t need to be real stuff. Improving your prototyping for <$10,000 and rewarding backers with ‘love and stickers’ may be more desirable than a first manufacturing run. Plus it’s a good test of your market channels.
Also, IndieGoGo representatives discussed some of the differences and benefits of various crowdfunding platforms outside of Kickstarter. Did you know there are over 100 crowdfunding platforms globally? And of course, IndieGoGo is set up for campaigns from around the world, not just the US.
Finally, we launched the Robot Launchpad “Launchies”! Our first awards for promoting robot startups via social marketing go to:
  • Claire Delauney (Botiful) – Botiful campaign (video & updates)
  • Elad Inbar (Robot App Store) – Botiful/RAS blog dialogues
  • Saurabh Palan (iRoboticist) – most number of #botiful shares (twitter, facebook and face to face)
  • Jeremy Conrad (Lemnos Labs) – promoting and supporting robot startups & events generally
pictured L to R: Claire Delauney, Saurabh Palan, Andra Keay, Jeremy Conrad, Elad Inbar.
(The great little “Launchie” trophies are in the mail because the laser cutter is sulking over missing out.)

 

by   -   August 14, 2012

SF Bay Area Robotics meetup – August 21 7pm – 8.30pm at Lemnos Labs – is a kickstarter edition. Claire Delauney will share her experience with Botiful, as she reaches the final 12 hours of her Kickstarter and is currently still only 75% 80% funded. There will be a speakers with kickstarter a range of experiences, positive and negative and we discuss what it takes for a successful hardware startup campaign and when Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platforms are a strategic good fit for your project.

One thing to consider before crowdfunding your robot startup, is that around half of all projects don’t get funded. Also, some crowdfunding platforms specialize in creative projects or projects with a lower average target than a hardware startup. Those 6 figure success stories are unusual if you look closely at the data. I’m currently drafting up a deeper look at crowdfunding data vis robots (or product based projects). Crowdfunding can be an amazing tool for launching your robot startup but too many good robots are missing their target due to lack of marketing. Not only is hardware more expensive to launch than an album or even a short film, but we often also lack the fan base.

But at Robot Launchpad, a problem is just an opportunity we haven’t seized yet. We’re going to launch the Launchies! Let’s see who the social network sharp shooters are! The Launchies are awards for robot startup marketing. First topic – Botiful (or #botiful) – Claire Delauney’s ‘Botiful’ kickstarter campaign closes on Wednesday August 22nd and is 75% 80% funded. We should all be backers because Botiful is beautiful, but we want everyone to test their market channels.

  • Best/funniest share of video (check out Elad’s entry already at Robot App Store!)
  • Best/funniest share of picture
  • Best/funniest share of text (tweet or blog)
  • Most number of times #botiful is shared
  • and overall Biggest Social Badass award

plus most creative use of ANY/ALL social networks – not just internet ones!

Don’t make us search for you – send us a link! Awards winners will be announced on Tuesday 21st August at the SF Bay Area Robotics Meetup. There will be trophies and prizes! There will be glory!

by   -   July 26, 2012

Robots Podcast is the place to hear the latest well informed news and views on robotics. I’m honored to have been interviewed about Robot Launchpad for the July 13 2012 podcast. Robots is a non-profit association dedicated to providing free, high quality, educational information for the robotics community and the general public, based in Switzerland but with global tendencies and they’ve been producing great podcasts since 2006. New episodes are released every two weeks, on Fridays at 9am GMT.

In addition to insights from high-profile professionals, Robots will take you for a ride through the world’s research labs, robotics companies and their latest innovations. I’m afraid I was on vacation when the Robot Launchpad podcast was released so I didn’t publicize it very well, but the whole list of podcasts HERE is great listening.

Robots: Launching Startups – mp3

Today we talk with Andra Keay, founder of Robot Launch Pad, robotics startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley, about latest events, lean startup methodology, funding, and gender.

Andra Keay

Andra Keay is a Robot Startup Evangelist passionate about growing robotics, one startup at a time. Supported by key actors in the field including Erin Rapacki and Ryan Calo, Robot Launch Pad aims to bridge the software, web and mobile startup worlds of Silicon Valley and San Francisco with the robotics community and the flourishing local maker sphere. In this interview, Keay tells us about the excellent startup events organized by Robot Launch Pad in April including the Robot Retreat, the Robot Block Party, Mega Startup Weekend and a Cloud Robotics Hackathon. She brings us into her world of lean startup methodology, minimum viable products and tells us about the importance of women in science.

Before launching Robot Launch Pad, Keay completed her Master of Digital Cultures in the area of Human-Robot Interactions at the University of Sydney. Her project on “the Naming of Robots” explored how roboticists express identity and gender through their technology. Passionate about robotics for a long time, she has also been running science and robot workshops for children since 1995, including coaching competition teams in Moonbots, First Lego League and RoboCup Jnr.

Finally, don’t miss Andra Keay’s other blogs, Robot State and Andragy.

 

interview by   -   July 13, 2012

Today we talk with Andra Keay, founder of Robot Launch Pad, robotics startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley, about latest events, lean startup methodology, funding, and gender.

Andra Keay



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October 7, 2019


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