Invest, Innovate, Implement

October 15-17, 2014

Hynes Convention Center
Boston, MA


Workshop: KickStart Your Robotics Startup

October 23

Presented by Grishin Robotics

The hardware Renaissance has finally begun and it's time to make the robotics revolution happen. From industrial floors to SMB offices and from military grounds to households around the world, robotics is finally becoming the next big thing after personal computer and Internet.

Participate in a series of discussions that will range from building and growing hardware startups to design, prototyping & manufacturing all the way through to distribution, marketing and funding.  This workshop will help you successfully navigate the most challenging and exciting times of your startup life-cycle.


First Thing’s First: Building a Better Robot
1:00PM - 1:45PM

Evan Ackerman, Senior Writer, Automaton

Brian Lamb, Co-founder, Swivl
Keller Rinaudo, Co-Founder and CEO, Romotive
David Cann, Co-founder, Double Robotics

Matthew Powers, Senior Robotics Specialist, NREC, Carnegie Mellon University
Melonee Wise, Co-founder, Unbounded Robotics

Simple, right? Well...

Today, sophisticated consumers expect Apple-level design from any hardware products they touch. At the same time, a lot of roboticists and hardwarians still build their devices purely to work. But no one is going to buy a robot for looks alone.

It is not enough to make a robot, or any kind of hardware device, aesthetically pleasing. Form follows function. Is the robot solving problems or just creating headaches for the user, overwhelming them with unnecessary clutter and useless features? How does it work? Is it simple enough to be handled by your 74-year old grandmother?

The creators of Romo, Swivl and Double Robot know what it takes to handle the design right — and are willing to share their secrets. Special guest Matthew Powers, from Carnegie Mellon University, knows how to design the robots that get things done. Finally, famous Willow Garage's alumnus Melonee Wise is ready to unveil the secret of her newest robotics startup - and she knows a fair bit about designing robots for humans as well.

From Prototype to Products: Streamlined Manufacturing
1:45PM - 2:30PM

Signe Brewster, Reporter, GigaOm

Ben Einstein, Co-founder, Bolt
Nick Pinkston, Founder, Plethora
Brady Forrest, VP, Highway1
Scott N. Miller, CEO, Dragon Innovation

Finally, you’ve built that first viable product after a long, arduous labor of love. But even prototyping can be seen as a piece of cake compared to what comes after. When you have successfully raised good money on KickStarter or Indiegogo—ideally, 10 or 100 times better than what you hoped to get—then the real work begins. How do you make 500, 5,000, 50,000 of the robot that took so much time and effort just to develop? Which factories should you turn to? China or US? Should you abandon your current life and move to Shenzhen full-time just to get it right? What about inevitable quality issues? Do you hire  a manufacturing pro (if you can finding and hire one) or turn to specialized agencies?

The guys from Highway 1, Dragon Innovations, Bolt and Plethora been doing all this stuff for years—and have the answers.

Flirting with Funding

Valery Komissarova, Business Development Director

Rob Coneybeer, Managing Director, Shasta Ventures
Renee DiResta, Principal, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures
Dr. Manu Kumar, Founder and Chief Firestarter, K9 Ventures
Bilal Zuberi, Partner, Lux Capital

Okay, so you’ve survived that whole production process (hopefully, with your sanity). Things are looking up...but when you are starting to talk to VСs, life doesn't seem so nice anymore. Especially when they say things like:

“Oh, you guys are doing hardware? How nice, but we like mobile apps more.”

“Wait, you can't turn product around in a week? No thanks, try your luck next door.”

“What, you are not going to do multi-billion dollar IPO in a few months after launch? Pass.”

Sounds terrible, right? Exaggerated? Maybe. But there will be doors shut in your face unless you know who to talk to and how to talk to them about your company. Luckily, the folks at Lux Capital, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Shasta Ventures and K9 Ventures have opened doors for you, and are willing to share all the darkest secrets to winning venture capitalists’ hearts (and investments).

How to Master Your Market
3:15PM - 4:00PM

Signe Brewster, Reporter, GigaOm

Elizabeth Hamren, VP Marketing at DropCam
Ben Jacobs, CEO, Whistle
Amanda Peyton, Co-founder, Grand Street
Cameron Robertson, Co-founder, Lockitron

Brian Sturdivant, VP of Marketing, Breathometer

So maybe now, you’ve got a couple million in funding raised (or if you don’t, we’ll get to that in good time). And even the first batch of production has gone well and the units seem to work fine. Where do you go from here?

What happens after shipping the first batch of a couple hundred, or thousand units? Hold on…how you are going to ship them in first place? How did you get these first pre-orders and how you will promote your product to get another million? Let’s face it, TechCrunch is bored of pushing your pre-sales. Can you afford less than you hoped for, or handle more than you anticipated? Should you go after direct sales? Can you make that Apple Store pipe-dream happen? What about margins? Inventory issues?

Brain hurts just thinking about it? No worries— Grand Street, Breathometer, Whistle, Lockitron & Dropcam do this for a living, and they’re willing to help you too.

Session Code
W-SW: Workshop: KickStart Your Robotics Startup


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