The long arc of technology has always veered towards making lives more healthy and comfortable for current generations than what was possible for the previous ones. While lots of problems still exist, it is a question of whether dedicated individuals and communities would come together to solve them. If you believe some problems can never be solved or if you are fed up because of certain societal problems, there are definitely many talented people working on solving it. One should find out for sure and be a part of it if possible.
Machines are second nature to us. We’ve written algorithms and integrated them with machines to make life easier for us. Very soon, machines will be able to become smart and actively help us in our daily life. This vision of the future is on its way as we speak. First, we’ll see smart machines help us in manufacturing the goods that consumers demand everyday. Second, smart machines help us at home to get things done. Thirdly, smart machines will help us make work easier, leaving us to do more creative work rather than repetitive ones.
Today, at Bangalore Insider we spoke to Ribin Mathew, CEO and Co-founder of ANSCER Robotics. As India taps into new manufacturing technologies to enhance its supply chains for all sorts of products, robotics will play a huge enabling role in this transition. Ribin tells us plenty about how ANSCER will help make this happen,, in the below excerpts of our conversation.
Give a brief info about your company ANSCER Robotics?
We’re a young, Bangalore-based start-up with a vision to make world-class robotics accessible to the world. The average age of our team is about 26, and we’re all robotic enthusiasts driven by the vision to make India a leader in the industry and transform the way people see robotics.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
Our company has 4 co-founders and most of us used to have regular corporate jobs. However, we always wanted to create our own venture and have a strong hand in shaping the robotics industry. The COVID-19 pandemic, especially, is when we realized the importance of automation in helping keep humankind safe, and we wanted to figure out a way to contribute to conquering the challenges the pandemic presented. In fact, our very first invention was a UV Disinfectant Robot that won national and international awards. We powered it with our own ANSCER Engine, i.e. Asia’s first (and one of the world’s first) ‘heart and brain’ for Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) and a combination of robust software and hardware that serve as a platform for the development of a multitude of service robots that can be used across industries, regardless of payload or application. We also recently launched our own line of AMRs to help solve the challenges of internal logistics and mobility.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I have a strong background in the field of Robotics, with a knowledge in Robotic Operating System (ROS), machine learning, and computer vision. I was passionate about robotics since I was young so I decided to pursue BTech in the field of Mechatronics. I completed my BTech from Nehru College of Engineering and Research Centre, Kerala, where I had won over 60 awards across a multitude of robotics competitions. I was a part of the very first mechatronics engineering batch to graduate from Kerala. After my education, I worked at Addverb Technologies as a robotics engineer before pursuing my lifelong dream of starting a venture with my other co-founders.
I would like to also add that most of us [the co-founders] were working in robotics and automation in other companies, and some of us have even founded other startups/ventures and lived abroad. We’ve all loved robotics from a pretty young age and have also had a passion for entrepreneurship. When the pandemic struck, we realized it was the perfect opportunity for us to come together to make a difference.
Where is your company based? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We’re based in Bangalore. It’s no secret that the city is the start-up capital of the country and also home to some of the world’s best tech talent!
As a co-founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
The misconception so many people have that robot/automation is the enemy – it’s not! Robotics and automation, when used correctly, make the lives of people infinitely better. It is sometimes challenging to explain this to people, especially in a country where labor seems to be in excess. In reality, steady, reliable labor is still difficult to come across and hinders operations for many manufacturers across India. After all, how many people can you think of who would be happy lifting heavy boxes or operating machinery their whole lives? Helping industries understand the benefits of robotics to do these menial tasks would help place India on the map as a world-class manufacturer.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
In the AMR space, we’ve ensured that our robots stay robust even in dynamic, ever-changing environments by developing a localization system that uses a combination of vision and LIDAR technology. In contrast, most players in the field only use LIDAR. Our technology is also powered by state-of-the-art algorithms that we’ve developed in-house.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup co-founder and how do you manage it?
I used to have no work-life balance and this took a toll on me. But as soon as I realized that life is a marathon and not a sprint, I developed a healthy routine that helps me optimize the time I have both, professionally and personally. We try making sure our entire team is able to do this, too, by trying to stick to regular work hours over a 5-day work week. I know developed countries around the world are already implementing 3 and 4-day work weeks and maybe eventually we can get there, too, but in the Indian startup landscape, 6-day work weeks are the norm and we’re happy that we’re at least keeping it limited to 5 and doing our best to ensure absolutely no work on the weekend. Much of our team really appreciates this.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If not then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
Yes, we are funded and we have a mix of angel investors and technology partners on board with us. Our technology partners help us to accelerate the development of our products.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
A rather positive and flattering misconception: that our robots are made in Europe/the USA and are imported to India. In reality, we’re proudly Made in India. We work super hard on our cutting-edge technology and design to make our country stand out as a leader in the robotics space so it fills us with joy to make people realize what we’re capable of in India!
What gets you excited about your company? Any achievements you would like to highlight about your company?
Our wonderful team is the most exciting part of the company. We grew from 4 to 27 people, launched multiple products, and even won awards in a span of just 1.5 years – all in the midst of a global pandemic!
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
I wake up around 5 and go for a jog, shower, have breakfast, and then head to the office. In the first half of my day, I get updates from the team, then spend my time meeting with investors, mentors, and colleagues. After lunch is when I focus on coding and delve into product management. In the evening, I check and respond to mails before heading home, having dinner, and sleeping by 10:30 or so. It took me awhile to develop this routine but it’s helped me stay healthy, sharp, and balanced!
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Some of us have known each other since we were kids in Kerala, so for over a decade. Others I’ve studied with or met through work. We also connected and grew close to one of our other co-founders through Bangalore Makerspace, a community for creators.