Maidbot, Cornell Student Startup, Wins SXSW’s Student Startup Madness
The $5000 first prize will go toward funding small-scale production of the firm’s vacuum-cleaning robot.
The day when humans never again have to vacuum came another step closer to reality last week as Maidbot, the Cornell University student startup that’s on a mission to transform hotel housekeeping with robots, took first place in Student Startup Madness, a national tournament-style competition for new digital media businesses.
Seven other finalists were invited to Austin to participate in the competition, which was held in connection with the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. Maidbot took the $5000 top prize.
Maidbot founder and CEO Micah Green, a sophomore in Cornell’s hotel management program, said he’ll apply his winnings toward small-scale production of the firm’s first robot, which uses advanced spatial mapping techniques to vacuum floors in hotel rooms.
Maidbot’s product will be more technologically advanced than other “floorbots” on the market, a “supercomputer compared to personal computers,” Green says. David Moroniti, the firm’s chief technology officer, has been building robots for 24 years, working on various projects for firms like SpaceX, NASA, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
“Hospitality as a whole is very traditional and old fashioned,” says Green, whose experience as a hotel room attendant – a requirement of his hotel management major – got him thinking about ways to improve housekeeping operations while reducing injuries and labor costs.
In the future, Green sees Maidbot moving into robots that clean bathrooms and make beds. “We view them as housekeeping assistants, not full replacements for room attendants.”
With substantial funding in hand from angel investors and other business competitions, Maidbot is continuing to tweak its beta product, using the prototype development facility at Rev, a collaborative work space for Ithaca entrepreneurs. Not yet ready to make a photo of the product public, Green describes the beta as “very sexy.”
“Micah has done a great job of taking advantage of all of the resources available to entrepreneurs here at Cornell,” says Zachary Shulman, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell, noting that the university will soon introduce an entrepreneurial minor and open a co-working space for students.