In 2016 at electronica Munich the American company BotFactory won the Start-up category of electronica Fast Forward (e-ffwd) — the Start-up Platform powered by Elektor — with their ‘Squink’ desktop PCB printer and assembly machine. Now, two years on, Elektor had the chance to talk to JF Branden, Vice President Sales and Marketing at BotFactory.
Elektor: In what respect did winning e-ffwd 2016 make a difference?
BotFactory: Exposure to a new crowd of people was really the most important difference here. We really needed to be seen by people with interest in electronics, or who were within the fi eld already, and winning e-ffwd 2016 boosted our credibility.
Elektor: What do you consider the most important development within BotFactory after November 2016?
BotFactory: We released our SV2 PCB Printer to the market! If you’re interested to learn more, check out the website www.botfactory.co.
Elektor: Has there been a change in your plans that you did not anticipate back in November 2016?
BotFactory: We did not anticipate the difficulty of some of the technical challenges we encountered in developing our new SV2 PCB Printer. I can’t go into specific detail, but some of the problems we thought were small were big, and vice versa. Our SV2 is an incredibly complex device and we did a superb job catching our blind spots on certain issues by having a very rigorous product development process grounded in Agile Development methodology to be responsive. In the end the product development and eventual release was much further off than we would have expected in November 2016, but we think the product is better than we could have expected too!
Elektor: In the coming ten years, will your challenge be primarily financial like finding enough resources to invest in new technology or, on the other hand, technical by improving and growing your product line?
BotFactory: The technical aspect of our technology is the largest challenge — electrical engineers have very specific needs and we have to fulfil them in order to ship units. Pushing our existing technology to meet them is our primary focus, and the financial challenges are secondary — everyone knows that this is a huge industry with a huge market problem that once technically resolved could have a huge return on invested capital.
Elektor: What do you consider to be the most difficult part of your job?
BotFactory: Part of my job is to sell, which is a fundamentally repetitive and mechanical process. That requires a certain attitude to be maintained, even after a hundred people say “not interested” to you. But you have to remember that you are providing a favour to them — a product that really could make a difference in their work. That keeps me going.
Elektor: What is relatively easy when doing your job?
BotFactory: That’s a tough question! Nothing is relatively easy as a start-up!
Elektor: What is the nicest part of your job?
BotFactory: I get to make things with our PCB Printers! I have made masks with LED arrays, analogue sensors, guitar effects pedals and even a custom Arduino. If I show off that anyone can make anything with our Squink and SV2 PCB printer, that gets people excited. To be able to fab a circuit within a few hours, or create a product in a day is an amazing power to have, and I love sharing that capability with others. Inventing for the sake of inventing is something I cherish every day.
Elektor: Is it difficult to find new colleagues, given a shortage of people with technical skills?
BotFactory: Yes! To anyone reading this, if you want to work with us, drop us a line at email@example.com!
Visit www.elektormagazine.com/e-ffwd and complete the sign-up form.
It is also the place to look for more information like the Terms and Conditions, and news.