From RICHMONDINNO By Eileen Abbott
Before launching SVT Robotics, CEO A.K. Schultz and his co-founder and CTO Michael Howes were both working as executives for another company when they noticed a vital, unmet need in the robotics industry while observing an assembly line.
“The machines were actually installed fairly quickly, but it took much more time to integrate the software because they all had to be integrated using bespoke interfaces. That experience stuck with me,” Schultz recalled.
Schultz and Howes later created SVT Robotics in 2018 to provide a solution: rapid deployment of enterprise robot technology.
“When Mike and I founded SVT, we realized that everyone in the industry needed a thing no one was building: a way to quickly get all these technologies to talk to each other — across platforms and manufacturers. And with the SOFTBOT Platform, we have accomplished just that,” Schultz said.
Now, the Norfolk-based startup is garnering such widespread attention as a nationally renowned robotics software developer, SVT Robotics recently said it is expanding operations and hiring more people.
“SVT Robotics is a prime example of the success that innovative technology businesses can achieve in the Commonwealth,” said Governor Ralph Northam in August, when he announced that SVT Robotics is investing $101,400 from a Virginia Jobs Investment Program jobs grant to expand the company’s operations. Thirty-seven new jobs are being created as a result.
Virginia competed against California and Texas for the project.
“We are thrilled by the ongoing efforts from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Norfolk to create an environment that is extremely friendly to tech startups,” Schultz said. “The ability to recruit the best technical talent is the lifeblood of tech companies, and we applaud Virginia’s efforts to create strong tailwinds for firms like SVT.”
Schultz told Inno SVT Robotics will be renovating the company’s current office space to build out the Innovation Lab and accommodate more groundbreaking technologies from their partners, enabling SVT Robotics to test and demo solutions that work with the SOFTBOT Platform.
Since that recent news, the SVT Robotics team has been working non-stop, and for a good reason.
“There’s definitely big news coming from SVT Robotics, but we’re not at liberty to talk about it quite yet,” Schultz hinted to Inno this week.
SVT Robotics’ proprietary SOFTBOT platform, which expedites the deployment of industrial robotics in the manufacturing and warehousing industries, is a game-changer, Schultz said.
Users can customize workflow to best meet the needs of an entire facility simply by dragging and dropping SOFTBOT “connectors” within the platform. Instead of taking months, or sometimes years, to get the tech up and running, SOFTBOT allows companies to do it in a few weeks or even just days, he explained.
“Everyone wanted robotics in their supply chain, but integrating and deploying them couldn’t be done quickly enough. My co-founder Mike Howes and I were also starting to see small, VC-backed companies developing technology that far exceeded what the big players were doing. We founded SVT Robotics to create an amazingly valuable product that solves the need for fast robotics deployment,” Schultz said.
Schultz said the company has increased its deployments 375% from Q4 2020 to July of this year, and has nearly doubled its headcount since the beginning of 2021.
“This is an exciting time for industrial robotics,” Schultz said. “We are now in a market that intensely needs automation and a way to integrate it quickly and easily. With all SVT Robotics has done to de-friction the integration process, companies can focus their energy on running their business rather than struggling with the integration of the systems they really need.”