Robotics Roundup: Inventory Funding, University Accelerators, and How To Avoid Putting Your Eggs in One Basket
While I’m typing I have just finished my second panel for our big TC Sessions: Mobility event. The write-ups will be ready in time for next week’s summary, but it’s worth thinking about a few things in the meantime.
The first are partnerships with big companies like Walmart. I feel like Walmart really loves working with small tech startups. And honestly, why not, right?
There are many advantages and relatively few disadvantages. Ultimately, a company like Walmart is looking for a competitive edge over Amazon, the galactic emperor of competitive advantage. Amazon has of course invested a lot in robotics, including acquisitions and proprietary developments.
There are enormous advantages and disadvantages for startups. It’s hard not to see a company like Bossa Nova as some kind of warning on this front. Promising startup inventory scanning took a massive blow when Walmart got out of a deal in which the company had invested huge resources. Bossa Nova was shaken, to say the least.
There is no easy math in this case. When a company like Walmart knocks on your door with a big order, you’ll want to get in with both feet. But how do you avoid putting all of your eggs in that one basket? When it comes to emerging technologies, companies like Walmart love to play along.
Another topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is whether universities are doing enough to encourage innovation in their own backyard. There are many good and bad examples of this, but as someone who writes about robots, I keep coming back to Carnegie Mellon. Other large robotics schools like MIT and Stanford did not have to worry about the drainage of talent, largely because of the location.
How can a school like CMU help budding entrepreneurs transition from lab to start-up and keep those talent in their own backyard? The good news is that I can ask this question straight to the source. I’ll be interviewing CMU President Farnam Jahanian at TC’s upcoming virtual event in Pittsburgh on June 29th. Here’s a quote from Jahanian to whet your appetite:
Carnegie Mellon’s decades of leadership in AI and robotics research and teaching has fueled an innovation ecosystem in the Pittsburgh area where entrepreneurship, creativity, and space intersect. These new technologies are changing the way we farm, enabling millions to learn a new language, leading the race to develop self-driving vehicles, and even flying to the moon. We are committed to empowering citizens across Pittsburgh to share the economic benefits of these innovations as they continue to change our world.
At the beginning of summer, investments in this category are no longer as fast and heavy as they were at the beginning of the year. But I know from a good source that we’ll see some more robotics funding announcements in the not too distant future. Of course, for all of the reasons I alluded to, the storage room is still hot. And this week a Croatian company called Gideon Brothers announced a $ 31 million increase. From a recent article by Mike, here is CEO Matija Kopić:
The pandemic has greatly accelerated the adoption of intelligent automation and we are ready to meet the unprecedented market demand. The best way to do this is to connect our proprietary solutions with the largest and most demanding customers. Our strategic partners have real challenges that our robots are already solving, and with us they are seizing the incredible opportunity to transform some of the most innovative companies in the world with robots.
Kopić and his team should of course all consider changing their last name to Gideon and doing a whole Ramones thing. Of course, they’re the ones who just raised $ 31 million, so maybe they’re doing something right.