Daniel Pizzata of Modbot: Building Robots and Building a Business

Shannon McGarry Shannon McGarry July 31, 2014

7 min read

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Earlier this month, Daniel Pizzata of Modbot was kind enough to sit down with us and explain not only what Modbot does (robots for everyone!), but also his own hard-won wisdom about how to improve your chances of success — in business and life — as a hardware entrepreneur. Here he is in his own words.


Hey I’m Daniel, co-founder of Modbot. Our goal is to make robots so massively accessible that real robots can be built by anyone.


Modbot is a set of modular building blocks for building useful robots. You can assemble them like Lego to create any robot that you can think of. You can even build and control them from the cloud.




Why Start a Robot Company?

Since my co-founder Adam Ellison and I were kids, we’ve been living in this world where authors and creative minds have painted an amazing picture of what our future would be like. It included the robots that would help us to achieve the tasks that we want to do every day. The dream is that they wouldn’t only be monotonous drone-like creatures, but that they would have a sense of soulfulness — they would have personality and character.


We believe the primary reason it isn’t already happening is because they are expensive and complex. They are locked away in expensive research facilities and people don’t have access to them. But if we can take that technology and hand it to millions of people — millions of minds — then the bandwidth for innovation in robotics can radically increase. We can see these pieces of technology become part of our world, and even start talking to them as part of our dynamic environment.


We believe that our vision of robots everywhere can be part of our future, and we intend to pave the path to get there.


What It Takes to be a Hardware Entrepreneur

I came from a full-time career with a paycheck and the traditional concept of stability. I lived in a great place in Melbourne, Australia. It was all going the way that life is supposed to . . . except that I didn’t want to work for someone else.


I think that same urge is felt by a lot of people. Being entrepreneurial obviously comes with risk, so it’s very easy to say, “I’m willing to take on the risk and live in squalor and do whatever it takes to get there.” But be smart: if you do it right, you don’t have to. Personally, I moved overseas and gave up being close to my family and my existing network, and there are times when that’s tough. But my experience has taught me that taking the steps towards achieving the levels of success you desire, will by far outweigh even the worst of the tough times. Realizing your true potential and the feeling it will give you is the peace of mind we all seek.


The key is realizing that you get that peace in the journey and not just the destination.


Here are some of the key things I’ve learned:

Those are some of the most important things I’ve learned so far working at Modbot. In closing, raising a company is unsustainable without the people in it — and that includes you.Tend to the company’s needs, but if you don’t tend to your own and the needs of those you work with, you will lose sight of what you set out to achieve. It’s very easy for me to say that this company is going to work because I believe in the idea and I believe in the people.


Good luck to you!




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