AFAM: Hello Ryan! Thank you for participating in this interview series. We met each other at Agoranov in November 2019. Please tell me a few words about your startup today. How was your 2020 professionally speaking? How are you and your company coping with the COVID-19 outbreak occurred this year?
Ryan: Despite the circumstances, our startup is growing faster than ever. People are looking very seriously to robotics as a productivity necessity in the post-COVID world of manufacturing. Our solutions make industrial robots, easier to use and more cost effective – especially for the uninitiated – and this has brought in new projects faster than we can handle. Right now, our biggest problem is finding new talent to keep up with demand.
AFAM: can you tell us a bit more about your every day job? How is it different from the time when your company was created in January 2018?
Ryan: My role as CEO of Fuzzy Logic Robotics is constantly evolving. At the beginning, I was writing code and soldering circuit boards to get our prototype out the door for a first client. Soon thereafter, I was writing grant proposals and pitching for incubators and accelerators. After that, I was evaluating market opportunities and prospects. Now I am recruiting and preparing our roadmap for the next 3 years. In my mind the key to the role of CEO in a tech startup is to keep learning and adapting.
AFAM: being in robotics today, is it about seizing business opportunities or about changing the world?
Ryan: I believe that some part of you has to want to change the world, even if only by a bit, to create a startup, but vision without solid business acumen will get you nowhere. Your business exists only if you have clients willing to pay for your product or service.
AFAM: you have been living in France since 2012. You obtained a master’s degree from Arts et Metiers and PhD in robotics from Pierre and Marie Curie University. You are also a Georgia Tech alumnus.
Have you ever thought about moving back to the US? What is your opinion on differences/similarities between the two countries as regards professional and business opportunities for roboticists and robotics startups?
Ryan: As of now, opportunity has presented itself in France and I can’t see myself leaving anytime in the near future. Living and working in France is a true pleasure and I really appreciate the work-life balance that French culture encourages. I don’t think it is any better or worse than working in the US – just subtly different.
Robotics is a burgeoning sector of activity in France and there are certainly more and more actors popping up every day but I believe the majority of opportunities are still in the US.
AFAM: robotics is a very broad sector. There are a lot of industries impacted by automation nowadays – transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, services, food (read our interviews in Food for Thought series), to mention a few. Which of the industries are undergoing the biggest transformations today according to you and where to look for major opportunities?
Ryan: From what I can tell, the manufacturing and logistics industries will be the most impacted by robotics in the near future. They are historical automation powerhouses, but with the shift from mass-production to mass-customization, robotics has become a critical element in ensuring a competitive advantage and the strongest players are doubling down on their automation investments.
AFAM: we have a lot of students every year looking for internships and later on, job opportunities in robotics (including on the US market). What advice would you give to these students? What skills and knowledge are crucial to acquire to be successful searching for an internship in robotics?
Ryan: Robotics is a field which combines an array of technologies and therefore requires a diverse skillset. Any robotics engineer should have a good understanding of mechanics, dynamics, electronics, and programming. I think programming skills are the most important of the list, but being a good programmer is not enough – you have to have a good handle on the underlying math of robotics to solve the hard problems.
AFAM: Thank you, Ryan, for sharing!
For more information about Fuzzy Logic Robotics:
Photo: courtesy of Ryan Lober
Other interviews in "People and Robots" series: