Guelph’s Redtree Robotics wants to make things easier for mobile robot makers and things are about to little easier for Redtree itself.
Last week, at the Montreal International Startup Festival, the company was pre-selected for the fall cohort of the FounderFuel accelerator program.
Acceptance into FounderFuel “allows us to work on Redtree full time and make it a real business,” says Tom Hummel, Redtree’s co-founder and CEO.
Hummel and his business partner Jason Ernst are currently working out of The Hub, an incubator at the University of Guelph, where the the two PhD students are developing an integrated hardware and software platform to run mobile robots, with a particular eye to helping multiple robots communicate with each other.
“There’s no such thing as an off-the-shelf computer for mobile robots, especially for multiple robot applications,” says Ernst.
That’s a problem, they say because mobile robot control systems have to be designed on an individualized basis and adding new robots to a deployment can be a challenge.
Mobile robots are a growing market. According to an April report by Transparency Market Research, the mobile robotics market is expected to grow by over 12 per cent a year between and 2019, increasing from a $6.2 billion market in 2012 to a $14.3 billion market by 2019.
The Redtree team say they have the hardware almost completed, while the software component is about 80 per cent completed. The goal is to have the whole thing done by the end of their three months in Montreal. Developing the software is a bigger challenge than developing the hardware Ernst and Hummel say.
While their main focus is to sell the hardware and software together, all their components will also be sold separately.
Sylvain Carle, the incoming director of FounderFuel, who picked Redtree says he heard over 50 pitches during his two days at the startup festival.
“I was looking for something that might not have been as obvious, not yet another social consumer startup, not that I am against these types of startups, but wanted to make a statement about a direction that might be a bit different, take a bet on a space that's both really early but with tremendous potential,” says Carle, who is currently a senior developer advocate at Twitter, begins his new role on Aug. 1, when he also becomes a venture partner at Real Ventures, the company behind FounderFuel.
“FounderFuel announced recently that it would have an investment option for startups combining software and hardware,” Carle says, exchanging $100,000 for nine per cent equity. “So this was naturally on my mind.”
He was also impressed with the Redtree team.
“One thing that I am also looking for,” Carle says, is “a team with hard science, deep tech combined with a market perspective. It's really hard to find the right balance between the knowledge of PhDs and the insights of working in an industry.”