There’s never been a better time to start a robotics business. Robots have been around long enough that you can find parts and support easily, but not so long that the market’s saturated. If you have an idea for a robotics company, now’s an excellent time to follow through on it.
Before you rush into creating your startup, though, you should consider a few things. No matter how desirable a market’s climate is, starting a business is a complicated and challenging venture. Of the millions of small businesses that start every year, only half will survive past five years.
It can help to see what other robotics businesses did right. It’s even more helpful to understand where failed ones went wrong. If you’re going to start a robotics business, avoid these seven common pitfalls.
1. Moving Too Quickly
Setting deadlines for yourself is an excellent way to stay motivated and productive. Just make sure your deadlines are reasonable. Too many robotics startups rush to push out their product without spending the necessary time refining all the small details.
Robots are tricky machines, so it’s worth spending the time getting them right. Starting a robotics business involves more than just making robots too. It’s a mistake to try to handle product development, financial management and legal paperwork all at once.
Even after launch, understand that it will take time to start earning any significant amount of money. Don’t be lazy, but don’t overwork yourself, either. Moving too quickly will result in bigger losses than anything you have to gain from it.
2. Having Too Broad a Vision
The robot market may not be saturated, but it’s still considerable. You need your robots to stand out in the crowd, and that requires a specific vision. What problem does your robot solve, and how does it do it better than any other option?
It’s not realistic to make a robot that everyone will buy. You need to identify a specific niche audience and create something that suits their needs. Even then, you need to specify what sets your robots apart from the competition.
Are you making a robot for factory work? What separates yours from the abundance of robotic arms in the manufacturing industry? Identify a need within your target audience and work to address it.
3. Rushing Into Hardware
If you’re starting a robotics company, then you probably want to start making robots immediately. Believe it or not, this is a mistake. Save your resources and save the hardware building for later.
Why shouldn’t you start working with hardware as soon as possible? It’s expensive, and robots are complicated. You need to work out all the kinks in your design before you start spending on materials.
You’ll most likely go through several models before you have your final product. If you build physical versions of each one, you’ll quickly burn through cash. Don’t mess with the hardware of your robots until you’re confident of your design and have more capital.
4. Waiting to Make Connections
You may want to wait to connect with consumers and investors until you have a finished product. It may seem like jumping the gun, but making connections early is crucial to your startup. If you don’t, your robotics business is almost sure to fail.
Talking with potential customers helps you see what their needs are. This information will help you create a more marketable robot. These conversations also help you establish your name in the industry before you bring your product to market.
It’s also essential to connect with investors early on. To build your company, you need capital, and capital comes from investors.
5. Turning to Too Many Investors
While you’re talking to these investors, make sure you don’t turn to too many of them. You need investment, but you also need to have control of your company. You need to walk a fine line between getting capital and remaining in power.
Accredited investors typically have a net worth of more than $1 million, but they’re still putting their own money in your business. Because they’re dealing with their personal bank accounts, they’ll likely want their investment fits their desires. This can lead to investors trying to push your company in a direction you don’t want.
Your robotics company is your dream. Bringing on too many investors can take that dream away from you. Turn to investors, but not so many that you lose control of your own company.
6. Focusing on Advances Over Profitability
When you do secure investors, don’t let the money go to your head. After investors give you an advance, it can be tempting to start spending more rapidly. Don’t let a few commas in the bank account distract you from making a profitable company.
Robots are expensive machines. You can burn through an advance quickly in this business, so don’t think a big check makes you invincible. Focus on profitability, no matter how much money is coming in.
Large sums of cash are nice, but they’re not what keeps your business alive. Keeping costs low and maximizing profit is how you’ll survive.
7. Not Documenting Everything
When you first start, you may think you can keep track of everything in your head. You’ll quickly find that this isn’t true. You need to document everything that goes on in your business, from profits to losses to failed ventures.
Details that seem small now may matter more later on. You have too much on your plate to be able to remember everything. It also helps to get used to keeping records, so you’re prepared when your company takes off.
As your robotics business grows in size and worth, you’ll need to start documenting everything. Why wait? Start bookkeeping now, even if it means hiring staff to do it.
Start Carefully and Build Slowly
Robotics is a multi-billion dollar industry, so you have a lot of potential for profit. To survive in this business, though, you’ll need to start carefully. Don’t fall for the same mistakes that failed startups in the past have.
If there’s one common thread through all this advice, it’s that building a company takes time. You won’t achieve success overnight, so why shoot for that? If you tread carefully and slowly build your company, your robotics business could be the next big thing.
Facebook deletes developer over ironic browser extension invention
(TECHNOLOGY) Think a muted week for a nipple shadow is bad? Facebook just permabanned this inventor for…helping others to use the platform less.
It must be true that corporations are people because Facebook is pulling some seriously petulant moves.
In a stunt that goes beyond 24hr bans for harmless hyperbole, and chopping away at organic reach (still bitter from my stint in social media management), Facebook straight up permanently banned one of their users for the high crime of…aiming to get people to use the platform a little less.
Developer Louis Barclay came up with Unfollow Everything, an extension that basically instantly deleted your feed without having you unfriend anyone or unlike anything. Rather than have users manually go through and opt out of seeing posts, they’d now opt IN to keeping who they wanted front and center.
In his own words on Slate: “I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favorite friends and groups by going to them directly. But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable.”
Since more time spent on Facebook means more ads that you’re exposed to, means more you spend, the add-on started slowly making headway. I myself pretend to be a ranch owner to keep ads as irrelevant to me as possible (though my new addiction to hoof trimming videos is all too real), and Unfollow Everything probably would have been a great find for me if it hadn’t been killed by a cease and desist.
Law firm Perkins Coie, representing the internet giant, let Barclay know in their notice that Unfollow Everything violated the site’s rules on automated collection of user content, and was muscling in on Facebook trademarked IP.
They also added, in what I can only assume was a grade-school narc voice, that the add-on was “encouraging others to break Facebook’s rules.”
Barclay, not having the resources to fight a company with the finances of a small country, promptly ceased and desisted. Practical.
Officially speaking, Facebook might have actually have some ground to stand on vis-à-vis its Terms Of Service. The letter and legal team may have been warranted, not that we’ll ever truly know, since who’s taking Facebook to court? But then they followed up with a ‘neener neener’ deletion of Barclay’s 15 year old account – which was still very much in use.
Look, Facebook is the only way I connect with some of my friends. I don’t take enough pictures to make full use of Instagram, I fully hate Twitter, my Tumblr is inundated with R-rated fanfiction, and any other social media platform I’m happy to admit I’m too haggish and calcified to learn to use. So a complete WIPE of everything there with no notice would be pretty devastating to me. I can only imagine how Barclay felt.
And in light of the fact that the browser extension wasn’t hurting anyone, taking money, or spewing hateful rhetoric, there’s really only one thing to say about Facebook’s actions…they’re petty.
Sure, they may have the legal right to do what they did. It’s just that when you notice every fifth post is an unvetted advertisement, their high ground starts to sink a little. I mean nothing says ‘We’re being totally responsible with user information’ like the number of add ons and user tactics popping up to avoid seeing the unnecessary. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Facebook put up a fight against losing ad traffic.
We all know all those stores with amazing deals aren’t actually going out of business, or even using their own photos right? Right?
Barclay added in his article, “Facebook’s behavior isn’t just anti-competitive; it’s anti-consumer. We are being locked into platforms by virtue of their undeniable usefulness, and then prevented from making legitimate choices over how we use them—not just through the squashing of tools like Unfollow Everything, but through the highly manipulative designs and features platforms adopt in the first place. The loser here is the user, and the cost is counted in billions of wasted hours spent on Facebook.”
Agreed, Mr. Barclay.
Now I’m off to refresh my feed. Again.
Glowbom: Create a website, using just your voice
(TECH NEWS) Talk about futuristic! This app allows you to create quizzes, surveys, an online store, and even a website in minutes–without typing.
In the past, we’ve discussed things like simplified coding and no-code app creation. Now, a San Francisco startup has taken the process a step further with no-type app creation.
Glowbom is a voice app that allows you to dictate steps to an AI – from adding information all the way to exporting code–in order to create a simple app, survey, or game. While the built-in options for now are limited to four simple categories, the power of the app itself is impressive: By asking the Glowbom AI to complete tasks, one is able to dictate an entire (if small) program.
It’s an impressive idea, and an even more impressive product. Glowbom founder and CEO Jacob Ilin showcases the power of Glowbom in a short demonstration video, and while he only uses it to create a simple survey, the entire process–up to and including the exportation of the API–is accomplished via voice commands.
Furthermore, Glowbom appears to process natural inputs–such as phrases like “Let’s get started”–in the context of an actual command rather than the colloquial disconnect one tends to expect in AI. This means that users won’t need to read a 700-page manual on phrases and buzzwords to use before jumping on board–something the Glowbom user base was probably hoping to avoid anyway.
As of now, the options one can use Glowbom to create include a quiz, a survey, an online store, and a website. It seems reasonable to expect that, as support for the app grows, those categories will expand to comprise a larger library.
Glowbom certainly opens a few doors for people looking to take their businesses or ideas from an offline medium into the digital marketplace. As coding becomes less centralized in computer language and more contingent on processes such as this, we can expect to see more products from folks who may have missed the coding boat.
Perhaps more importantly, Glowbom and products like it make coding more accessible to a wider base of disabled users, thus taking a notable step toward evening the playing field for a marginalized demographic. It’s not true equality, but it’s a start.
This story was first published here in October 2020.
4 ways startups prove their investment in upcoming technology trends
(TECH NEWS) Want to see into the future? Just take a look at what technology the tech field is exploring and investing in today — that’s the stuff that will make up the world of tomorrow.
Big companies scout like for small ones that have proven ideas and prototypes, rather than take the initial risk on themselves. So startups have to stay ahead of technology by their very nature, in order to be stand-out candidates when selling their ideas to investors.
Innovation Leader, in partnership with KPMG LLP, recently conducted a study that sheds light onto the bleeding edge of tech: The technologies that the biggest companies are most interested in building right now.
The study asked its respondents to group 16 technologies into four categorical buckets, which Innovation Leader CEO Scott Kirsner refers to as “commitment level.”
The highest commitment level, “in-market or accelerating investment,” basically means that technology is already mainstream. For optimum tech-clairvoyance, keep your eyes on the technologies which land in the middle of the ranking.
“Investing or piloting” represents the second-highest commitment level – that means they have offerings that are approaching market-readiness.
The standout in this category is Advanced Analytics. That’s a pretty vague title, but it generally refers to the automated interpretation and prediction on data sets, and has overlap with Machine learning.
Wearables, on the other hand, are self explanatory. From smart watches to location trackers for children, these devices often pick up on input from the body, such heart rate.
The “Internet of Things” is finding new and improved ways to embed sensor and network capabilities into objects within the home, the workplace, and the world at large. (Hopefully that doesn’t mean anyone’s out there trying to reinvent Juicero, though.)
Collaboration tools and cloud computing also land on this list. That’s no shock, given the continuous pandemic.
The next tier is “learning and exploring”— that represents lower commitment, but a high level of curiosity. These technologies will take a longer time to become common, but only because they have an abundance of unexplored potential.
Blockchain was the highest ranked under this category. Not surprising, considering it’s the OG of making people go “wait, what?”
Augmented & virtual reality has been hyped up particularly hard recently and is in high demand (again, due to the pandemic forcing us to seek new ways to interact without human contact.)
And notably, AI & machine learning appears on rankings for both second and third commitment levels, indicating it’s possibly in transition between these categories.
The lowest level is “not exploring or investing,” which represents little to no interest.
Quantum computing is the standout selection for this category of technology. But there’s reason to believe that it, too, is just waiting for the right breakthroughs to happen.
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