Wired to win Featured

8:22pm EDT June 30, 2011
Wired to win

In 2009, Martin Hitch was hired as the CEO of Bossa Nova Robotics Inc. from a pioneering California robotics company. His belief that robots can become the next personal computer, soon to be ubiquitous in the home, coupled with the strategy, passion and technical talent of Bossa Nova’s two founders — David Palmer and Sarjoun Skaff — was the perfect match.

Having spent 15 years building children’s consumer product brands, Hitch brought in trusted sales, marketing and distribution partners and has been a rainmaker in securing revenue and capital. Hitch is driving the long-term vision to move processing and content delivery to the cloud, thereby making robots more affordable and effective.

Bossa Nova’s business model evolved from relying on distributors to sell and promote products in European markets in 2009 to going direct to retail channels in the U.S. in 2010. The evolution comes with substantial financial risk, but the 2009 experience provided confidence in the products, which allowed the company to pursue the higher margin model in 2011.

The strategy was recognized by a number of awards, including first prize at the Enterprise Business Plan Competition, the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Rising Star Award in 2009 and the council’s finalist award for art and technology in 2010.

Along the way, Hitch, Palmer and Skaff overcame a number of daunting obstacles. In the early days of research and development, the company didn’t have the resources to build robots that could be manufactured. Bossa Nova struck a deal with manufacturers to conduct research and development, while retaining IP ownership. Another challenge was to secure funding during the recession, which required a great deal of creativity. Hitch and the staff won grants, found flexible manufacturing outfits and secured loans and investments. The efforts culminated with a recently closed multimillion dollar institutional round of financing.

How to reach: Bossa Nova Robotics Inc., (412) 453-4220 or www.bnrobotics.com