October 24, 2013      

Day one of RoboBusiness 2013 saw outstanding support from the Silicon Valley startup community with hundreds in attendance for the Kickstart Your Robotics Startup workshop, organized by Grishin Robotics, and the first-ever RoboBusiness Pitchfire that brought industrial heavy hitters, investors and innovative entrepreneurs together for one high-energy event designed to showcase new innovation.

Emceed by Silicon Valley Robotics’ Managing Director, Andra Keay, the RoboBusiness Pitchfire hosted pitches from 15 startup companies whose wares ranged from robotic bartenders to crime prevention systems to robots for technical research and education. Some companies had bootstrapped for years, others were actively engaged in a crowdfunding campaign or had recently acquired some form of early stage funding, which was a healthy demonstration of the varying approaches to raising capital among robotics startups.

Here’s a complete list of the participants:

Mighty Carma
Unbounded Robotics
Team Walk Like a Man
RoboSport Technologies
Mecha Meals
Tempo Automation
Party Robotics

The majority of presenters touted low-cost, modular and open source solutions, signifying the values and key technological drivers of the next generation of robotics products.

The presenters navigated inquiries from a panel of highly respected members of the investment community, including Sven Strohband of Khosla Ventures, Jan Westerhues of Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, Valery Komissarova of Grishin Robotics, Jeremy Conrad of Lemnos Labs and Renaud Champion of Robolution Capital. The entrepreneurs were questioned about their value proposition, key differentiators and the practicality of their solutions from market appeal to regulatory compliance.

After a lively deliberation, the judges awarded Melonee Wise, CEO and co-founder of Unbounded Robotics, the win. On Monday, October 21, Unbounded officially unveiled their much-anticipated UBR1. Developed by a team of Willow Garage alumni, this one-armed robot delivers the functionality of the PR2 (high level mobility, dexterity, manipulation, and navigation) at a list price of $35,000.

Two honorable mentions were named in light of the outstanding presentations. Monsieur, an Atlanta-based company, charged up the audience with their presentation of a streamlined robotic bartending system that can be controlled via smartphone app or integrated with home automation systems such as SmartThings via WiFi, Zigbee, or Bluetooth. Monsieur can dispense cocktails at home or for a commercial business and is customizable from cocktail theme to serving size.

Tempo Automation, Editor’s Choice winner at Maker Faire 2013, received the second honorable mention after impressing the judges with a practical solution for making prototypes and short-runs of circuit boards utilizing a desktop robot. Tempo’s Electronics Factory will etch trace, apply solder paste, place components, and test boards automatically to speed up electronics development at home.

Immediately following the Pitchfire, all investors and startups retired to the RoboBusiness opening reception where constructive feedback was exchanged and the highlighted companies enjoyed a flurry of attention from media and industry leaders in attendance.

All the Pitchfire participants deserve applause for taking on the challenge of pitching their passion for two minutes to a crowd of revved up robot enthusiasts. Here’s looking forward to the many new entrepreneurs that will appear on the horizon between now and next year’s event!