A Q&A with RobotAppStore founder and CEO Elad Inbar. The San Francisco–based company was founded in 2011 and closed a $250K first round of funding in early-December from Grishin Robotics.
SUB: Please describe RobotAppStore and your value proposition.
Inbar: RobotAppStore is the first marketplace providing apps for robots. A marketplace is the bridge connecting knowledge-islands with end-users, and enabling an easy sharing of apps for every robot. This is the missing link in the chain—without it, the robotics industry will not be able to achieve the productivity and richness potential it deserves. We share 70 percent with developers.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Inbar: Naturally, we are targeting robot owners and developers. However, even if you don’t have a robot, or don’t know how to program one, you can find everything you need to know in our knowledge base (www.robotappstore.com/Knowledge-Base) and in Robopedia (www.robotappstore.com/Robopedia/).
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Inbar: we don’t have any direct competition. We are working with few manufacturers providing them Robot App Store services.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Inbar: We started working on the company in mid-2011, and formally incorporated in August 2011. The first steps were to spread the word out; we worked hard to create the platform and bring the first developers on board—a marketplace without apps is not a marketplace. We officially opened for the public around March 2012.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for RootAppStore? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Inbar: I worked with educational robots such as NAOs, providing robots, training, and even teaching robotics in universities, schools and after-school programs, etc. While working with these professors, I noticed that they are all working on the same problems, developing apps that are solving the same issues. It was pretty stupid to see that two professors, sitting ten miles from each other, investing resources trying to solve the same problems. I tried to find a platform where they can share their work, or even sell it, but couldn’t find any. This was the moment I bought the domain www.RobotAppStore.com. It took few months to get the business plan in place, and ever since, this has occupied 150 percent of my time.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Inbar: RobotAppStore is a self-explanatory name, I was so happy—and surprised—to see that the domain was free. One of our advisory board consultants told me that he and his colleague started talking about creating a robot app store, and they were disappointed to discover that I bought the domain few days before them!
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Inbar: Getting high quality apps that people are willing to pay for. We are investing a lot of resources in getting high quality apps, approving them, and posting them.
SUB: You recently raised $250K in Seed funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Inbar: Grow the team—we already hired one person—and still looking for another one. We are using these funds and the revenues from sales to secure our place as the source for robot apps.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Inbar: It is always a good time to raise money. The deal with Grishin Robotics matured with a lot of potential added-value, as Dmitry Grishin is focused on robotics companies in our space—domestic and personal robotics—which will strengthen the position and success of the company.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Inbar: We capitalize on the robot apps market as well as on hardware sales.
SUB: What are your goals for RobotAppStore over the next year or so?
Inbar: Get 100K paying customers on board the RobotAppStore.
RobotAppStore – www.robotappstore.com