Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Mike Hilton, CEO at Genesis Robotics:
What does your company do?
Genesis Robotics is a Canadian R&D company that creates technologies that make robots faster, safer and more versatile. This is mainly achieved through our signature LiveDrive technology that uses direct-drive actuators verses traditional gear-based actuators. Surprisingly, with all the advancements in A.I. and software, there has been little innovation on the mechanical side in decades. We are changing that and doing it in a cost-effective way.
No matter how much A.I. and sensor technology improves, at its core, robotics is about the movement of material. Leading the shift to improved mechanical designs opens the door for better collaboration between robots and people. Paralyzed people will be able to walk more naturally with exoskeletons. Cobots will eliminate mundane and repetitive tasks for workers. And, an aging population will have assistive robots that will lift heavy loads, enabling their independence in the home and beyond.
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
As CEO, my job is to figure out the best path in bringing our technologies like the LiveDrive to the masses. That means engaging daily with potential partners and help evaluating what is the right fit for us. The technical side is actually the easy part. I have the privilege of leading a talented team of engineers and designers that are constantly pushing forward and solving the industry’s problems, truly defining the “state of the art” when it comes to actuation.
Knowing that we have technologies that play a very relevant role in the robotics revolution is exciting, but knowing how they will eventually benefit society is what keeps me going every day. Being part of a team that shares those same values and passion for invention is a special thing.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
Right now, we are seeing a lot of machines that are slow, mainly because of the weight and space taken up by gears and the limitations of traditional actuators. The industry needs to shift to direct-drive actuation and improve the mechanical design of robots. The shift is happening, but the adoption will take time.
This is holding back the potential of cobots in the workplace as well as assistive and rehabilitative robots in industries like healthcare.
The other challenge is cost. At the right price point, robots are ready to assist the elderly to live more independent lives, and in their own homes longer. However, we need to lower the cost of actuators to be the catalyst for this next wave of robotics. Reducing the complexity, number of moving parts and base materials costs can make this happen, and this is the focus of development at Genesis Robotics.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
When building a team, look past just skill set, degrees and past experience. Smart and talented people are not enough, you need to find people with passion, who are creative. Then you need to help feed those passions, so they can get energized by what they do and bring that energy to work every day, infecting others with it. Once you find people like that, stay out of their way and let them work their magic.
I often describe my management style in this way. I don’t want to drive your car, and I definitely don’t want to be a backseat driver. What I really want to do is pave the road and make sure I can give you the smoothest, highest quality driving experience possible. Give people the tools and work environment to be their best. That gets them excited, and you will get their best.