Exaptec: Putting a Face to the Future of Robotics by Humanizing Robots
The robotic industry is changing very quickly. There are a lot of interesting robots being produced, but the question remains, will the companies have enough capital to last the distance? There have been a few spectacular failures in the last two years where enormous amounts of money have been invested and the company has had to close, like Anki and Kuri. So, choosing the right company and product is important as you don’t want to deal with a company that suddenly goes out of business.
“Whilst our products aren’t hugely expensive, they are still an investment,” says Nicci Rossouw, Founder, and CEO of Exaptec Pty. Ltd.
Exaptec, an acronym for extreme application technology, was founded in 2015. The company specializes in telepresence, social, educational robots, as well as STEM products. Exaptec also offers workshops for educators introducing them to basic coding as part of their professional development requirements. The company was involved in the Robotics Roadmap for Australia in 2018. “I am one of the co-chairs for the Services Workshop for the Robotics Roadmap for Australia 2020,” shares Nicci. Exaptec also hosts the Melbourne Robotics Meet-up Group that organizes a monthly get-together with an expert presenter.
Having sold over 200 robots, we have repeat clients and clients that refer us to others.
Exaptec is a unique, one-of-a-kind company in Australia. Its core business is telepresence, social and educational robotics, and the company aims to be an expert in the area of robotics. The firm has a range of 8 different robots that and the team at Exaptec understands their function very well. On top of that, it strives for excellent customer service. Most of its customers reach out to the company for a solution to a problem they have, so there is no difficulty in selling as such.
Advanced Product Line
Exaptec imports, rents and sells a variety of telepresence, social and educational robots. As the company specializes in such a broad range of robots, it has a very good understanding of what’s available on the market and which robots to invest in. Subscribing to newsletters and updates of new robots and going to CES (Consumer Electronics Show) bi-yearly, keeps the company in the loop for the latest products coming to market.
“We are approached regularly to represent companies and new products,” tells Nicci. Exaptec and its team members are the sole distributors for three of its products. It creates a fine balance of not introducing competing products as the company believes that the three robots are represented as the best ones in the market.
“We have just become the sole distributor for the QTrobot,” shares the team of Exaptec. QTrobot is an expressive little humanoid designed as a tool for therapists and educators. It uses facial expressions, gestures, and games to teach children with autism spectrum disorder about communication, emotions, and social skills. QTrobot is also being used for post-stroke rehabilitation and elderly cognitive and physical rehabilitation as well as research and development.
Nicci’s journey at Exaptec has been rather unusual as she doesn’t have a technical background. Her focus has been on continuous learning and she feels extremely fortunate that her suppliers have supported her so well, especially for technical issues.
We predict that this will increase as the adoption rate for these types of robots become more widely used.Nicci Rossouw
In 2018 she was accepted into the QUT CEA (Queensland University of Technology Creative Enterprise Australia) Collider Mentor Program. Competing against 20 other companies for 10 spots, Exaptec qualified and it was a highlight for Nicci in terms of broadening her horizon and thought process. “Working with much younger entrepreneurs was a great experience for me,” describes Nicci. She has been recognized by Inside Robotics magazine in Australia as one of 6 women ‘who rock robotics’. “It was a great honor, especially as the other 5 were highly qualified, academic women,” states Nicci.
Before Exaptec she was the business manager (as well as one of the original co-founders) for 7 years at Tabar, an agile consultancy business that’s still running in Melbourne. Before that, she worked in sales and marketing, which of course, has come in very handy.
Exaptec’s Challenges and Growth Trajectory
The early adoption rate of telepresence and social robots in Australia was very slow and it continues to be an education process of how these robots are used, and what they can do. Nicci is a frequent speaker at events and uses these platforms as a way to educate as many people about Exaptec specialization as well as robotics across Australia. This is a huge challenge for the industry.
Becoming the sole distributor in Australia and New Zealand for the telepresence, robot temi was a pivotal growth time for the company. The temi was designed in Israel by Yossi Wolf and his team and has been on the market for just over a year now with enormous success so far. Exaptec has had a steady growth of 25-35% per annum since its inception.
“We predict that this will increase as the adoption rate for these types of robots become more widely used,” explains Nicci. With the Covid-19 epidemic, robots like the temi and the beam have proved invaluable in keeping people in touch with each other, doctors being able to speak to patients as well as being able to take people’s temperature in countries such as South Korea and China.