The company began with a core group of seven people. We had no idea what we wanted to do, but with a shared passion for engineering, we knew we could change the world. Inspired by the “DotCom” boom of the ‘90s, we thought there was no reason that we couldn’t join in. We learned about a business plan competition hosted by UF and decided to put together an entry. We iterated for months on various possibilities, finally landing on the idea of a robotic toy. We built our plan, entered it into the competition, and ended up placing 2nd or 3rd. We were so excited, we felt so empowered, and we knew we were on our way.
We established our idea further and started raising money from friends and family. We raised a total of $20,000 and were enamored with our prospects. At that point, we rented a small office in the Vidal Building in downtown Gainesville and continued to develop our idea. I quit my job and began working on the project full time, convinced that success was just around the corner.
Success was a little harder to come by. We talked to commercialization consultants and industrial design firms, started pitching to Angel investment groups, and slowly began to flesh out our product. I still love the idea. A robotic toy that would be expandable and programmable. It would be like a game console that provided endless fun and combinations of capabilities. It would have a sleep user interface and be more AI/Software focused then mechanically focused. The system would have a brain, a variety of mobility chassis, and application modules that would allow it to do a multitude of things.
We had a good idea and interest in the market, but we couldn’t get the capitalization to take it to the next level. We had met with Mattel and Hasbro, and they thought it was neat, but not inline with their current branded offerings. That meant that we would have to go at it ourselves, and we would need more money to do it. We ended up getting a term sheet with an angel group but were not able to close the deal. Without the right capitalization the idea died, and after pushing for a year with almost no pay, we had to pivot.