CEO Stefan Dörr in an interview about one year of NODE Robotics
At the end of 2020 you founded NODE with Kai, Jannik & Lukas. Now the first year is as good as done. How do you rate the time since the foundation?
We had expected it in a way, but in the end it was still a new experience for us and of course a wild roller coaster ride. Important milestones that came up right after the foundation, including the entry of the first investor with FTTF, the conclusion of the IP license agreement with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, as well as the further development of the team and the recruitment of new employees. Overall, we are very very satisfied with the development and maximally confirmed in what we are doing.
What do you enjoy most about it?
I like working on our vision and our products with our young and highly motivated team. I particularly enjoy the speed that we are able to demonstrate here in many places. From the discussion and decision about new projects and ideas, to their implementation, it usually goes without annoying delays and waiting for approvals.
What does your work week look like as a founder and CEO?
As a still young startup, I continue to be involved in a wide range of topics as CEO. This goes from investor meetings to sales activities, appearances at fairs & conferences to deep technical discussions with the team. Accordingly, my days look like this. Mixed and varied between appointments outside, in the ARENA2036 where our tech demonstrator is located, in our office in Leinfelden as well as in the home office.
What does your team look like by now?
We now have 9 employees working full time for NODE, plus about 20 part time or students. Within the company, we rely on several self-organizing, agile teams for the different topics and flat hierarchies.
What are the biggest challenges at the moment?
Like any startup, we struggle with the challenge of allocating our rather limited resources and capacity to the many tasks we face, prioritizing those that are most relevant to us and canceling those that are less important.
Looking back, would you do anything differently?
There are many things to mention. As a team, we had to overcome a steep learning curve because we were doing many things for the first time. The most important thing here is the mentality of periodically reflecting on the results, discussing them in the team and deriving the right improvement measures from them. We have been doing this in the area of software development for a long time, but now it was time to apply this mentality to other areas as well.
Where do you see NODE going next year? What are the next steps that lie ahead?
We are currently in seed fundraising, which we want to have completed by the end of the year. We will use the funding primarily to further build our team and work even more intensively on our product roadmap. Recruiting new employees will be the first task in the new year. This will be followed by the first product releases in the area of our NODE.MESH and NODE.SRVS, meaning the networking of AMR fleets as well as fleet management and coordination.
How do you plan to move forward to increase brand awareness?
Our lighthouse project with BMW with its Smart Transport Robot already has a great standing for us today. In addition, we currently have several other projects in the pipeline. Our marketing team is also doing a great job of increasing our presence on social media. In addition, our appearances at several conferences and trade fairs have once again shown how important it is to be there in person and to hold discussions.