Being the small 6-person startup company that we are, we had many worries before CES 2013, where technology companies go to show off their latest & greatest. It's like a popularity contest and, as a small company with even smaller budget for trade-show booths, we were severely under-dressed. Thoughts that crossed our minds:
What if our booth is too small? (It was 10x10 feet, the smallest you can get)
What if our booth's location wasn't good? (We were surrounded by a lot of knock-off products from an Asian country)
What if nobody came because our booth was not fully decked out with expensive attention-grabbing decorations? (We had 1 banner, 2 chairs, 1 table)
We didn't even have free pens, keychains, etc. with our logo on it to give out. Our booth at CES would have won the most "underdressed" booth award, if there was one.
We crossed our fingers and hoped that we could compensate for the lack of an over-the-top booth with the one product we've spent many nights sweating over: the Double.
Technically, no over-the-counter sales is allowed at CES, so Robin is pre-ordering it online (but he wanted the photo for his CFO with his credit card in it)
"Shut up and take my money!"
This is how a CEO (Robin Winsor, of Cybera, Inc. on the left) tells his CFO back at the office that he is definitely getting a Double. Thanks Robin!
We're excited to be interviewed on TechCrunch's live stream coverage of CES (click to play YouTube video above). Thanks to Matt, Jordan, John and Greg from the TechCrunch team!
Leo Laporte pre-orders it, live on his show!
Oh we should get one. I gotta get one. Yeah. I gotta get one. Because then I can be here even when I'm not. Ordering now. "How will you use it?" ON TV. I WANT THIS! I'M GETTING IT. Welcome to the future!
We had several people pester me at our booth to sell them the demo units right there and then. I said I absolutely need my robots until the very last day of the show, and they actually came back to offer even more money. We're thankful and flattered. (No, I didn't sell - the only right price is the one on our web site - in case you were wondering)
Our bare-bones (and cost-efficient booth). We figured the prettiest thing in the booth (aside from @redRomina on the banner) should be the Double. Everything else was secondary. Actually, if you look closely, you'll realize that our booth is really the lack of a booth (the perimeter is defined by the walls from the neighbor's booth).
David and I were at the booth for the first 2 days, then he had to cut his trip short and return to our office to help with our production process. So, it was a 1-man booth for the last 2.5 days (hard to get any scrappier than that). We had so many visitors with immense interest that it was genuinely difficult to find a 10-minute lull; for most of that week, I had my lunch at 8pm.
On a personal note, it was flattering to have people actually line up to talk to me (all without having to coerce anybody, imagine that!) The Double actually made me popular. If I could only turn back time to re-live the college years, but I digress.
We got a lot of press too. At one point, I had to write "Yes, you MAY take photos and videos--please share on Facebook and Twitter!" on a note stuck on our banner because people kept asking for permission. Like I said, we had a "sub-optimal" booth location near lots of Asian knock-off products--they don't like it when people take photos of their product. We'd very much love that!
We met many people who could help us with our journey: world-wide resellers, distribution, shipping, etc. Among some of the visitors to our booth were a few who had already pre-ordered from us; they were very excited to see the Double in person.
As a startup, we focused on the right thing.
To sum up, visitors gravitated to our booth despite the lack of booth babes and freebies because of the Double's design and simplicity. The $1,999 pre-order price helped too. There is hope yet for ok-looking men at prom (sorry David, at least we're not ugly).
Now that we have 900+ pre-orders from 45 different countries, it is actually difficult for me to keep up with requests that begin with "Let me know when you can do <insert something you want here> for us". While I have my personal mobile phone number on our main web site (California time, please) and you know my email (email@example.com), please sign up for our mailing list if you'd like to get updates from us.
Double Robotics, which has graduated recently from Y Combinator (http://ycombinator.com), builds telepresence robots, characterized by ground-breaking price ($2,499, also it can be pre-ordered now just for $1,999), great design, light weight and high level of simplicity – it works right “out of box” and uses iPad as a platform.
Double Robotics already has $1.2 million (600 units) in pre-orders (just in one month since the launch), from 44 countries around the world. Customers include 24 universities, as well as 17 Fortune 500 companies. Since the first production run of Double has already sold out, the investment from Grishin Robotics will be spent primarily on scaling manufacturing, as well as hiring & further product development. New pre-orders will be delivered in early 2013. Engineers interested in career in Double Robotics can get in touch with the company by the e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to ABI research data, worldwide telepresence market is going to reach $13.1 billion by the end of 2016. Current customers of Double Robotics are using the product for teleconferencing, security surveillance, real estate & museum tours, healthcare, presentation purposes and many others. Telepresence is considered by industry experts as one of the most promising and will drive the personal robotics market growth into the mainstream.
“Double Robotics’ investment perfectly aligns to our strategy”, said Dmitry Grishin, Founder of Grishin Robotics. “It is a very consumer-oriented product with potential to fit a very wide range of applications and has already proven a strong consumer demand. It’s also important that the price of the product makes it truly accessible to the wide audience. In addition, the team has a very good approach to design and is keen to build very user-friendly products - things which should not be underestimated while developing next-generation personal robotics companies. Double Robotics is very well positioned to leverage the unique potential of the very prominent telepresence robotics market segment and we strongly believe in both company’s team and product.”
”We are thrilled to have Grishin Robotics and Dmitry Grishin, in particular, as our largest investor to date,” said David Cann, Co-founder of Double Robotics. “We read about the new investment firm and Dmitry’s experience in the field of robotics in June 2012 when the fund was announced. The timing was perfect, as we were just beginning the Y Combinator program with our prototype robot. After our public
launch in August, we met with Grishin Robotics and were immediately impressed with their mission and deep knowledge of the robotics industry’s past mistakes and potential future. We look forward to working with Grishin Robotics in the years to come as we build our business.”
About Grishin Robotics
Grishin Robotics is a global investment company with a mission of advancing innovation in robotics for the mass consumer market. Grishin Robotics is focused on investing in personal robotics technologies in areas such as home maintenance, healthcare, entertainment and transportation. The firm is led by Dmitry Grishin, co- founder of Mail.ru Group, and is based in New York City. For more information, or to submit your company for investment consideration, visit http://www.grishinrobotics.com.
About Double Robotics
Double Robotics is a startup based in California that is creating the first professional grade mass market telepresence robot. The company’s first product is called Double and has garnered tremendous interest from businesses and consumers around the world. The company was founded by David Cann and Marc DeVidts and completed the Y Combinator program in Summer 2012. For more information, visit http://www.doublerobotics.com.
Doubles actually exist outside of our offices! One of them lives at OpenTok, our totally awesome streaming video partner.
We walked in to OpenTok HQ unannounced today around lunch time to perform some firmware updates and we were surprised to see a Double sitting at the lunch table with the rest of the crew! It also appears maybe they had a little too much fun playing dress-up. :)
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new blog page, where we will be keeping you posted with important Double news and info.
We wanted to update you on a couple things since we launched. First off, we want to thank you all for your enthusiasm and support for Double, especially to those of you who pre-ordered. Because of the overwhelming response, we've already had to expand our first production run to include more robots than planned, which is great! However, in good conscience, we cannot continue to offer a December ship date for units placed from here forward.
New orders placed (as of August 16th) will now be shipping in early 2013.
For those of you who have placed your order already, nothing has changed. Your order is still set to ship out in December.