Charting a New Path: A Chat with Augmentus’ Daryl Lim (Part 3)

If you are new to Augmentus and Daryl or missed our previous interviews here, this is a brief introduction to them. 

Augmentus offers leading full-stack code-free robotic automation platform that enables anyone, even those with no prior experience, to develop robotic systems. 

The local tech startup has already secured partnerships with the world’s leading robot manufacturers and automation providers to empower manufacturers to recoup their ROI faster by lowering time, cost and skill barriers in robotic automation.

Daryl is a current undergraduate of the National University of Singapore (NUS), pursuing a double major in Computing and Economics. 

He was the Organiser and Head of Events for Ground Zero 2019, Singapore’s leading student-centric hackathon for startups, bringing together over 100 enthusiasts, developers and designers to launch tech startups in just 50 hours.

Tun Yong (TY): Do you foresee a future where robots can operate by themselves, without human inputs?

Daryl: For the next 5 years, the capabilities of robots will be limited to repetitive tasks and pattern recognition. 

I reckon we are still a long way from self-operating robots, where they self-program and carry out tasks without human instructions.

This kind of future is pretty scary and I cannot envision such a reality. Should it occur, say 10 years down the road, I am sure humans will find a way to integrate into the solution and co-exist alongside it.

In that reality, there is no difference between humans and robots. Therefore, there has to be laws and regulations in place beyond the market at the government level. 

Fortunately, AI right now is not developed enough for such a solution. It is still in its primitive state where it can only carry out pattern recognition and machine learning. 

Tun Yong (TY): What were some memorable hardships suffered during your entrepreneurship journey?

Daryl: At Augmentus, it was figuring out the go-to-market strategy. We know our product fits a certain problem statement, but we needed to generate revenue as a validation metric. 

Therefore, we struggled with ways to generate revenue during product development, for no one will pay for a product still in its development phase. 

Due to the deep-tech nature of robotics, it takes a certain amount of time to develop the final product. We went down to speak to entrepreneurs experienced in robotics to find a way to commercialise while developing the product.

Currently, we have a commercialisation plan where we do proof-of-concept (POC) projects and sell our licenses as early access. 

Other robotic companies adopt the approach of waiting out and developing into their own lab. They only raise funds when they are ready to launch. 

However, that was not our model. We wanted to be faster. We did not want to spend 3 years in the lab without clients and customer validation.

The Augmentus team

Tun Yong (TY): How did you cope with the challenge of explaining technical jargon to your clients and investors?

Daryl: It was not a problem with our clients as the majority understood our solution. However, startup competition judges, usually investors, are those who struggle with this.

After we incorporated late last year, we participated in many competitions but we didn’t win many of them even though we knew our plan was good and revolutionary.

We asked various panels of judges on why we didn’t win and how we can improve. They simply responded that they did not understand our product and thus could not score us highly. Through this, the solution was simple. We needed to better convey our idea.

Therefore, we reduced explanations of product features and instead focused on how we solved our client’s problems. We certainly learnt that the hard way.

Tun Yong (TY): What do you think are the top traits an entrepreneur needs to succeed?

Daryl: The most important one would be self-awareness. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Double down on your strengths and delegate your weaknesses. I see a lot of entrepreneurs do everything. Instead, you should find partners to work together and complement each other. 

Even after forming a team, you need to set out your roles and responsibilities. Everyone should, and will be, multi-hatting. However, they should have a defined role. For example, the CTO main role is to take care of the tech stack but he can assist in other areas too.

Humility is an important trait too. You might think that you have sufficient domain knowledge in the industry but others will know 10 times more about it than you. It is important to stay humble and seek to understand the industry more. 

This consists of understanding the different stakeholders and finding out how to partner with them to get in contact with the end client. That is where industry-specific accelerators might help.

Interested in Augmentus and the work they do? Check them out here.

This interview is part of our “Founders X EDGE” series where we seek to hear the insights of youth entrepreneurs to demystify the scene and empower youths to turn their ideas into reality. Do reach out to us if you are interested in being featured alongside other great, young minds!

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Tun Yong Yap

Passionate about tech start-ups that identify problems, develop ideas and execute solutions to value-add to the community. As the content manager at EDGE, I seek to connect with youth founders to share their story and inspire others to turn their ideas into reality.

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