When we think of robots, we usually imagine complicated machines that are only built by the smartest people on earth. From the ones we see in movies, most of us don’t really expect we could build one on our own. It’s just a complicated thing as many would say. Robo Wunderkind wants to challenge that mentality. Founded by Rustem Akishbekov, he wanted to teach everyone – from kids to adults – that anyone can build a robot. Through Robo Wunderkind, robotics is going to be a child’s play.
It only takes three steps to make one: Build the robot, get the app to start coding, then be creative. As soon as the robot is connected to the app, children can do whatever they want with it. It can take pictures, drive around, solve mazes, play recorded sounds, and many more. Sounds easy? Sounds fun? It’s the perfect way to encourage young children to pursue a career in engineering, programming or robotics.
In this exclusive interview with the CEO of Robo Technologies, Rustem Akishbekov, he shares his journey into founding a company with a noble mission of teaching kids the importance of robotics in today’s world. Learn more about how he got started, where this company is heading to and Akishbekov’s advice to the future engineers out there!
Rustem Akishbekov, CEO of the company.
How many years have you been working in your industry?
I am a double university dropout. In my school years, I used to win competitions at the International Science Olympiads in Physics and Informatics, but the university was not challenging enough for me. I have started my first venture when I was 13 and I dropped out from the second university I started to work on Robo Wunderkind.
(L-R) Yuri Levin, Industrial Designer, Co-founder, Anna Iarotska, COO & Edtech, Co-founder, Rustem Akishbekov, CEO & Engineering, Co-founder
Describe your company.
I founded Robo Technologies and brought Anna Iarotska and Yuri Levin on board in 2013. The company is based in Vienna, Austria and San Francisco, California.
The founders have gathered a team of passionate engineers and designers who have been working on the project for three years. Among investors are SOSV – investment fund investing in hardware with a portfolio of 300+ companies and Arkley VC – European VC fund specializing in hardware. We have 10 core team members in our offices in Vienna and Shenzhen.
Describe your mission, vision, and values.
Our mission is to make robotics a child’s play.
What are your future expansion plans?
In 10 years, we want Robo Wunderkind to be used in schools all around the world as part of STEM curriculum. We want to empower millions of young students to pursue a career in engineering, robotics or programming.
What do you think is the future of the toy/gadget industries?
The digitization of toys has changed the industry in recent years, and we are looking forward to being actively involved in this trend. The best toys, in my opinion, are the ones that manage to combine the best of two worlds – digital and physical.
How will today’s toys and gadgets make a difference as compared to the ones from the past?
Children should learn by playing because this activity comes most natural to them. This is why there is a growing need for educational toys. Schools and other educational institutions are looking for tools that will help them make education more engaging and more fun. Robo Wunderkind is a great tool to be used in an educational setting because it encourages kids to experiment and develop their creativity and analytical thinking.
Which toy from your childhood made an impact on you while growing up?
LEGO – it allowed me to build everything I imagined.
What’s the inspiration behind your products?
I was studying CS at the Vienna Technical University and everybody loved the robots I was building in my free time. I thought “Why not give everyone the chance to build and program their own robots?” This is how we set on a mission to build the easiest programmable robots out there.
Which group is your target market and why?
We produce modular robots for kids starting with 5 years old. Our robots are an amazing and fun toy which can be played at home. At the same time, it can be used in an educational setting: robots help make school time fun!
What are the future innovations that your company are pursuing?
Our robotics kits are in a constant development and improvement and we are currently working on new applications and modules.
Our goal is to provide the robots with so many functions that they become attractive to several target groups. We also plan to create an API in the future that allows all users to develop their own apps for their Robo creations.
Do you think your product has made an impact on your customers and in your industry?
It will definitely make a huge impact on both kids and parents.
Where do you see your products heading 10 years from now?
For robots, the sky is the limit 🙂 Artificial intelligence will make our robots become a kid’s friends.
What makes your product different from your competitors?
Our programmable robot is modular so that kids can build it up however they want. The application’s intuitive programming interface allows even 5-year-old children to program their robot by dragging and dropping possible actions on the screen.
THE CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS
What challenges did your companies face while developing your product?
The biggest engineering and design challenge the team faced in the beginning, was the connection between cubes.
How did your company overcome these challenges?
By prototyping, experimenting and not giving up.
ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ENGINEERS
If you want to change the world, don’t think twice. Be brave and act.
For more details about Robo Wunderkind, visit its website www.robowunderkind.com. Follow them on Twitter (@RoboWunderkind) and on Facebook (facebook.com/ RoboWunderkind).