If you are new to Augmentus and Daryl or missed our first interview here, here’s a brief introduction of them.
Augmentus offers leading full-stack code-free robotic automation platform that enables anyone, even those with no robotic 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): Would you encourage early-stage startups to join accelerator programmes or would you recommend venturing out by themselves?
Daryl: I would encourage them to join, especially if they are first-time founders. It is likely they do not know much about business, product development, UI/UX, etc. The key thing about starting up is that at least one of the co-founders has to be a jack of all trades. Imagine tackling HR, product design, business strategies, marketing, legality. It is crazy and the list goes on!
Usually, the CEO is the jack of all trades within the startup. Additional tasks to handle include accounting and sales. How can you learn all these? You cannot go to school to learn them as these are practical skills that are not taught in the classroom.
Therefore, accelerator programmes provide the avenue to learn these practical skills fast and effectively. That is what entrepreneurship is all about. At the very least, entrepreneurs should have a basic knowledge of the different aspects of running a business.
However, it is important to not over-rely on them. Join the programme and get what you can out of it but 90% of the work still comes from within. Even if you joined prestigious accelerators such as Y Combinator or HAX, the bulk of the work still has to be done by the team.
Tun Yong (TY): What were some key takeaways from your first business venture that placed you in a better position to build up Augmentus?
Daryl: I had started a few microbusinesses before my first business venture, Edge Neo. Everything that I had learnt throughout my entrepreneurship journey culminated into Augmentus. For instance, in Edge Neo, I handled B2B sales and product design. I brought these skills over to Augmentus and handle these aspects of the business today.
I had started an online media organisation too. The digital marketing, video editing, and public relations (PR) skills that I learnt there translated very well into Augmentus.
There were many great learning lessons from my entrepreneurship journey. However, if there was one thing I had to pick out, it would be the mindset of standing in the shoes of your clients or investors. You have to adopt their viewpoints and understand the KPIs and incentives from their perspectives.
It may seem simple but it takes time, the relevant domain expertise and experience to be able to do so.
Tun Yong (TY): How was Augmentus affected by the pandemic and how did the team manage to overcome those difficulties?
Daryl: While the pandemic was a negative event that I would much prefer it not to occur, we did our best to innovate on this. Manufacturing for robotics saw a drop in sales due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic. In other sectors, there was still substantial interest in robotics. These include the agritech, medtech and foodtech industries. They are on the rise now in terms of automation and we are riding this wave with our offerings.
Overall, the pandemic had both a positive and negative impact on us. However, from a net perspective, it was still negative.
Tun Yong (TY): What other industries do you see an uptake in robotics and automation moving forward?
Daryl: Robotics was previously limited only to MNCs and not the mainstream market. These big companies utilise automation to do standardised and repeatable tasks, like screwing on a screw or painting a single object.
What the mainstream user requires are dynamic robots. Dynamic robots adapt to different conditions to accomplish more than just standardised and repeatable tasks. That involves a certain element of artificial intelligence (AI) and that is what Augmentus offers.
We are a code-free and unified AI robotic automation platform for conventional people like yourself to operate robotic systems. Therefore, we are revolutionising the robotics landscape to provide dynamic robots that can be used by everyone.
One of our customers was an F&B company that specialises in coffee. The process of producing a cup of coffee is very dynamic and the environment is constantly changing. Even if a robot’s paths can be standardised, imagine in a real-world environment where someone bumps into it and the cup spills. The robot needs to be able to detect and take action to correct it. That is the ideal solution as you would want to minimise human interaction as much as possible.
I am also in talks with another company that is looking to utilise robotics to assist the disabled servers in the F&B sector. Such an application of robotics would require a dynamic system too due to the unique nature of the human movement.
Looking forward, I see mainstream adoption of robotics in sectors such as agritech, medtech and foodtech. In the short-term, it would likely be the F&B industry that drives this adoption.
Interested in Augmentus and the work they do? Check them out here.
Stay tuned for the third part of the interview series, as Daryl shares how he juggled both studies and starting a startup and his thoughts on traits required for an entrepreneur to succeed.
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!
Tun Yong Yap
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