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Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup by Brad Feld, David Cohen

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Chapter 13. Iterate Again

Colin Angle

Iterate Again

Colin is the chairman, CEO, and founder of iRobot, a public company (IRBT) valued around $500 million that makes the popular Roomba vacuum cleaner robot and a series of military robots such as the Packbot. He is one of the founders of TechStars in Boston and has been a TechStars mentor since 2009.

A private mission to the moon and sale of the movie rights—this was our first business plan when we started iRobot in 1990. The surprising thing was how far we actually got. The launch vehicle (a robot named Grendel) was developed and flight-tested on a very small spacecraft affectionately called a "brilliant pebble" at Edwards Air Force base. We had agreed to sell NASA the data collected to help finance the mission. We even recruited the producer of the Blues Brothers movie to be on our board of directors. Although it was an interesting and bold idea, it didn't work out in the end. However, we had found a way to get paid for the effort through government programs, got to work on a very cool project, and were far from disheartened. We knew that there were going to be more innovative and unique ideas in our future, and we set out to try again. We decided to pursue industrial cleaning robots in partnership with Johnson Wax, oil exploration robots with both Baker Hughes and Halliburton, and robot toys with Hasbro. In each of these cases we were able to enter ...

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