LØRN case C0823 -
LØRN. SME

Micah Green

Founder, President and CEO

Maidbot

Housekeeping robot

In this episode of #LØRN Silvija speaks to Micah Green who is the founder, president, and CEO of Maidbot. Maidbot sells robotics and data solutions that help increase efficiencies in commercial cleaning, reduces injuries for cleaning staff members, and delivers actionable operational and environmental data for operators. He talks about how robots and people will work more closely together in the future, so people can optimize our time and how robots will not necessarily take all our jobs.
LØRN case C0823 -
LØRN. SME

Micah Green

Founder, President and CEO

Maidbot

Housekeeping robot

In this episode of #LØRN Silvija speaks to Micah Green who is the founder, president, and CEO of Maidbot. Maidbot sells robotics and data solutions that help increase efficiencies in commercial cleaning, reduces injuries for cleaning staff members, and delivers actionable operational and environmental data for operators. He talks about how robots and people will work more closely together in the future, so people can optimize our time and how robots will not necessarily take all our jobs.
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Velkommen til Lørn.Tech - en læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn, med Silvija Seres og venner


SS: Hello, and welcome to Lørn. My name is Silvija Seres, and my guest is Micah Green, the founder, and CEO of Maidbot. Welcome, Micah.

MG: Thank you so much for having me, Silvija.

SS: I'm really excited to have you here. You are a very exotic, important, and inspiring addition to this series about innovation and Hotel Sundvolden in Norway. To give you a very quick background for the series, this is a part of a project where the Norwegian government and different regions in Norway are supporting local employers to support their own staff that is now on temporary leave because of COVID-19, and trying to provide them with learning opportunities so that they can both stay inspired and connected to the business. What we are trying to do is to have a 30-minute conversation about what you do that is connected to Sundvolden, which will result in something that people learn something from. I have three questions that I would like people to focus on while we speak, and the first one will be what is Maidbot, this fantastic product of yours, that, according to Tord Laeskogen, is one of the best cleaning robots in the world, if not the best. Maybe we need to come clean and also immediately say that Tord is one of your advisors, and maybe therefore the reason why we managed to get you on this series. Then, we are going to talk about what is Maidbot, and why is it interesting, that is the first question. The second question will be why this is important in light of the future of hospitality. Where is the world of hospitality going, and what are the necessary efficiencies that we need to build in? And the third question will be a little bit more based on data. So, Maidbot is a cleaning robot, but as it cleans, it gathers data, and I think we collectively underestimate the value and the potential of that data. So maybe you can teach us a little bit more about that. Okay?

MG: Sounds great, I'm excited.

SS: Very good. So, Micah, I always start this conversation by asking people to tell us a little bit about themselves. Who are you and why do you love what you do?

MG: So just for some quick background, I grew up in Maryland right outside Washington DC, and basically, I've been starting companies since the age of 7. It was on a much smaller scale, but I knew from a very early age that I was blessed and cursed with the entrepreneur gene from my family that it kind of ran on my mom's side of the family, and I loved building something from nothing. And then I did robotics as part of a competition in high school for several years and got exposed to the idea that robotics is the next way. Just like personal computing in the '70s and '80s, and the Internet in the '90s, robotics is in the 2020s. So, I was very excited and inspired about that concept, and eventually, I ended up going to Cornell University, which had an entrepreneurship program, as part of the hospitality management school. It seemed like a perfect combination of hospitality and service, as well as entrepreneurship, which are my passions. And essentially through that experience, I had to work cleaning hotel rooms as a room attendant, or as a housekeeper, at a hotel on campus for one of my classes. And that was the time where I had that aha moment and got inspired and focused on solving problems in housekeeping. So, I wanted to bring robotics to the cleaning world and it had a lot of potential there. So that's a quick background on how the company got started, and I've been working in this company for the last five years, and never looked back.

SS: So, you studied robotics at Cornell University, or help me understand a little bit about your education.

MG: Yes. I focused on the hospitality management side since it's technically part of the actual business school. So, I studied hospitality operations and a lot of the elements and layers that go into that, as well as the food service and restaurants, and Tord went to the same school, so we met at an event. And that was really what I focused on, although I did get exposed to some of the robotic Ph.D.'s and students and learned about what was going on with Cornell because it was a strong program. But formally I focused on entrepreneurship and business within hospitality.

SS: And then you started Maidbot 5 years ago if I understood you correctly, and at some point, you got involved with Peter Thiel. In which order?

MG: So, actually, before Maidbot I was applying for the Thiel fellowship, which is a fellowship that essentially provides 100.000$ for about 20 students or 25 students, who are willing to drop out of their program at the university, or drop out of high school, depending on how young, to focus on a really moonshot idea, something that they believe will completely change the world and hasn't been done before, and needed that time and dedicated focus to be able to accomplish that. So essentially, a new type of education, very practical, and they get some advisors for it. So, I applied for that, even before I went to high school. I got rejected three times, and finally got in on my fourth try. So I'm a Thiel fellow, and that time I knew Peter Thiel. I was also inspired by him reading his book Zero to one, which is phenomenal writing about building a company that essentially creates an industry. And also, just learning more about the story behind Facebook and how he is a master and supporter there. So yes, since then he's been advising and mentoring me, and he has been generous.

SS: Very cool. You have been named as one of Forbes 30 under 30. Can you explain what that means?

MG: Yes. Forbes, the magazine and media company does the 30 under 30 for different categories every year. So, it is essentially honoring 30 people under 30 years old, that are doing something that is really making an impact in the world. I was nominated for a couple of categories. So, the youngest, I got that several years ago, I think I was 20 or 21 at the time. I was one of the younger people there. Also, manufacturing and hardware was the other one, because we're doing robotics. So, it has been great, and I've been able to meet some really interesting people through the program.

SS: So, can you just help our listeners, our Lørners, to understand what kind of an impact has that had on your ability to attract money and talent, and build your company?

MG: Totally. So, it's a really good point. I think there is a lot of credibility that comes with these, so it definitely helps in terms of validation with certain types of investors and connecting the dots between people too. So, we partnered with a company very recently, just closed last week, and the CEO of this big multimillion-dollar company was even more willing to talk to me because he was fellow friends with another Thiel fellow, so I had this kind of network of there, so ultimately, I think it can really open doors, and also it builds that credibility in those conversations as well. I think in terms of investors and even potential employees and hires, I notice this proof point there, so I'd say those have been some of the biggest highs and really network that has come around from these opportunities.

SS: So, we have to go back to your hobbies in a second. From what I can see, at least now you are rock climbing. I was just going to say I'm hoping you're not kiting, because everybody seems to go be going that way at the moment, in your world. But you make electronic music, that's lovely. What kind? What's your style?

MG: Yes. So, more relaxed and inspired by Daft Punk, if you know that group, and less the crazy concerts that some people go to, but it's just fun, and I find it very therapeutic to be able to release some ideas that are in my head and get creative, it's been a lot of fun and to be able to do it with others is a lot of fun.

SS: Do you know that we have very good electronic music in Norway?

MG: Yes!

SS: I can send you a list.

MG: That would be great.

SS: So, the final question here, Micah. Given all this other stuff you're doing and that you achieve, what's the relevance of you working with a medium-size hotel in Norway and your friendship with Tord, why do you bother?

MG: As I mentioned I met Tord through one of these Cornell hotel schools, and Tord is just, you can tell the visionary within him. He has a lot of energy around the future of the world, the future of hospitality. I think he is one of the first in the world to ever try robots with Roombas and these consumer robots to the hotels and got some press there, and I just saw that, and I think it is super important to partner with people who challenge you, but especially those who lift you and lifts the company because they're going to answer questions with yes, and- versus oh, it can't work. And it's inspiring when people can see that. So that threw me into speaking with Tord and building a relationship there. He got it and already tried robots to solve problems in those really helpful things there. He had a lot more experience than anyone trying to implement robots in the hotel. And then eventually I was excited about what we were building and how quickly we were moving and the other attraction we had in the market in terms of sales and investors. He wanted to invest and become an advisor and has been supporting since then. And really, I'd say although it's just one hotel in Norway, and it's not necessarily big corporate branded, it brings a different perspective in terms of this different type of hotel, and also being in Europe, which is a new space and area for us where we got some deals, and being able to navigate that, those conversations, the value propositions which could shift slightly, and then some of the people in the US and other parts of the world are super helpful. So, I think he brings this perspective that I don't have, and nobody else that supports us has, and it's been supportive in terms of other deals we've been working through in Europe and Norway, on the cleaning side and the hospitality side. As well as just surrounding myself with believers and have people who push us forward.

SS: Very good. One of the things that I think is underestimated as a valuable personality trait with Norwegians, is how direct they are. And I think they are also very brave. They do test new waters and they give you very fair but direct feedback. And I think that is a very valuable thing to have in any partner. On the personal side, just two short questions to close it off. One is your mom. When you said that you have an entrepreneurial streak in your family, I was expecting you to say something about your dad, and I was delighted when you said your mom. So what kind of an entrepreneur is she? You said also that she is one of your major inspirational sources.

MG: Definitely. I will say, though, my dad is starting a nonprofit, but the history stems from my mom's side of the family. Some quick background there, my grandparents, so my mom's parents, actually started a summer camp. It was their life dream to start a children's summer camp in upstate New York, outside of NYC, and they did that with very little money in their pockets. They didn't have a property yet and didn't have anything, but they knew they wanted to do it, and they figured it out very quickly and got a farm, turned the farm into a summer camp property, and it's been around for the past 60 years. My mom grew up on that camp, that's where she lived from being born until college. And then I grew up on the camp every summer. I started as a camper in training when I was tiny, and then I ended up becoming part of the staff, so for several years I helped run the operations. And that was my biggest exposure to business, what it is like to operate a business. So that is the source. My mom had started several companies since then and knew she wanted to be in hospitality since college and started in the operation side (I started in companies in the hospitality tech side), and now she has a company, which does management and optimal channel mix in terms of hospitality plugins. So, I was exposed to not just entrepreneurship but also hospitality and entrepreneurship there. And that opened my eyes and it seemed like the most fun thing you can do is really go to something from nothing and be able to control your destiny and create a path from scratch, you really design the path. What I and my mom talked about is that we don't enjoy maintaining railroad tracks, we enjoy building railroad tracks and setting the tracks down through the railroad. That's just a lot of fun, and I got it from that side of the family. Ever since she has been a huge mentor, we talk multiple times a week, she is super supportive and helpful when things are great and when things are not so great, and I couldn't be happier to be working with her and getting her support. So, it's been amazing, it's fun.

SS: The last question in this part is to ask you about the recommended reading and something you enjoy. Obviously Zero to One by Peter Thiel and then Steve Jobs, which so many brilliant people love, but what I want to ask about is that you also mention “Shackleton's Journey”. It was a raw journey being an entrepreneur. Is that what attracts you?

MG: I think so. I think that book particularly is very relatable. The story of an explorer going to the South Pole seems very different than somebody starting a robotics company, but in many ways, it hits this point of relentless perseverance, and I think that's something so powerful. I think honestly persistence and perseverance are the most important traits in entrepreneurship, potential, and success in general. To being able to continue to move forward, to put one step ahead, and have that positive mentality when everything falls apart could be hard to have. And when I discovered entrepreneurship, it feels like sometimes you're jumping out of an airplane and putting together a parachute quickly before you hit the ground. There is a lot of chaos at times and it can be a roller coaster. Not just over a week or multiple weeks, but even in one day you wake up and think it is the best day of your life, and two hours later get bad news. So, I think the book is just a really interesting story, for one, what the human mind and humans are capable of, and on top of that, it is relatable in so many ways for entrepreneurship. Being able to just keep moving and to be able to do that as a group together. So, yes, I would highly recommend that book, a great read.

SS: Now, can you tell us about Maidbot? What is it and why is it cool?

MG: Yes. Maidbot is a robotics company that is on a mission to build robots that empower humans. So, our first focus is commercial cleaning robotics, as for hotels, airports, office space, apartment building, and commercial real estate that has to be clean. And there have been many problems in the world of professional cleaning and hospitality related to labor and shortages. Just finding and retaining the right staff members can be quite difficult. And really, they still are using the same practices and tools for the past 30-50-60 years. It has not changed. So, I was a huge opportunity there, and with COVID, there has been a big impact as well. I am excited to be able to essentially pioneer the robotics revolution in hospitality and bring robots into the real world, not just in factories and warehouses, but really into the world with a normal day-to-day life.

SS: So, two things you said that I need to explore. One is that they don't replace humans, but they help humans do some of the dirty, dull, and dangerous work. And then you've been doing the cleaning yourself, you understand where the biggest problems are, so if you can help us understand, which parts of the job of the human will be replaced by a robot and which parts will need to be changed or developed so that people can make sure that this works in the best possible way? And then the other question is, how are your robots different from the ones that we've seen or the ones we have in personal homes?

MG: Yes. All good questions. The augmentation in robotics is being able to have one task out of ten tasks, let's say. I'll get to that in more detail in a second. Still has a huge impact, right, but I think there is still a long way before robotics can do a lot of the tasks and be able to work with humans and do true operations with the best efficiencies and qualities for the staff members. So, on your second point, getting into a little more detail there. When I was working as a housekeeper, I had a stopwatch. I was taking time doing different tasks and taking notes in terms of the sequence and tried to get a good sense of what would be the best to focus on. I wanted to start with making beds, being able to clean the sheets, put on new sheets, and have a robot that could make a bed because quite frankly I didn't like that, it is one of the hardest things to do while cleaning a hotel room. But then I realized it was going to be extremely expensive, it was going to take a long time to develop, and it's not a great place to start in terms of getting the foot in the door and being able to provide by the industry sooner than later. And we didn't want to miss our marks. So that is when we looked around on other tasks and thought what takes a lot of time, where do injuries come from. And number one is making the bed, number two is vacuuming, and then what else in terms of technology that is out there today, what is usable. What can we do that is out there but still revolutionary and new, but at the same time can be done in a matter of months versus many years? After we landed on focusing on cleaning floors at the hotel guest rooms, bathrooms, the corridors and hallways, meeting space, we wanted to start there, and really branch out. So that is how we landed on that task specifically and got a lot of good feedback from Tord and others out there who said this is a good place to start and go from there.

SS: So, I'm trying to have a picture of this in my mind. I understand that many of the really complex tasks in robotics that are simple for people are very hard for robots. Things like folding a sock, getting the shower corners clean, or folding the toilet paper just the right way are not a task for robots, and humans can do it easily, it's not very hard. But cleaning the big surface areas and leaving the corners in one way or another for humans, is a sort of way we can collaborate?

MG: Exactly. I think certain tasks for us are super easy, and we can do them in seconds. But getting a robot to do that, like you said, folding and replacing toilet paper, doing things like that, are intricate. And there's still a little way to go in terms of the actual mechatronic side of robotics for some of these tasks. The manipulation to be able to mimic a hand exactly, there has been a lot of progress, but still, it is challenging and takes way longer. It could take us five seconds to fold that toilet paper nicely. For the robot, it could take five minutes. And sometimes that's ok. Our robot takes longer to vacuum the floor than a human does, and that's ok because the human is doing other things during the same time, so you're still saving that time. But it is really finding that right balance, and I think there is still some more research in development in dynamics, with really impressive dog robots and human robots. The Atlas has made some tremendous progress but still isn't quite ready for the commercial world yet.

SS: It can do parkour and it can dance, but I don't know if it can vacuum really. It's good for shows. But your robot versus the ones we buy to vacuum our floors at home, cleans harder, deeper, stronger? Is that the difference? Or it has more sensors, it doesn't bump into the furniture so much, or where are the biggest differences?

MG: Yes. That's a great question. When you look at some of these consumers like iRobot, Roomba, or Dyson. They are great products. I think at a high level when you think about assumptions for your home or apartment, for commercial, the assumptions are very different. And because of that, they have big issues. So we spoke with a lot of hotel owners who have tried Roombas or Dyson. One of which is Thor. He was early to get information, and through that, essentially what we heard is that the robots weren't durable enough. The batteries melted within a couple of weeks of use. Parts would break off. Motors would burn out. And that's because the assumption of the home is using a robot maybe a few times a week, whereas using a robot commercially, you use the robot during a time every single day.

SS: It works nonstop.

MG: Exactly. So, durability is number one. You mentioned sensors and intelligence. So that is right as well. So, these consumer robots take up to an hour to clean and hotel room. So that means that the staff members have to wait for the robots, it will take them longer. And our robots take less than ten minutes to clean the same space. It can take 6-10 minutes to clean that same space. So. a magnitude of difference in terms of efficiencies. The other piece is cleanliness. When you look at your home, as long as it looks clean, most people are ok with that. Some people are kind of germaphobes, but overall, most people are ok with it if it just looks clean. It looks good, we're good. Whereas in a hotel setting, they have such a high standard and the highest standard of cleanliness out there, especially now in covid. So, I think cleanliness is super important, and the fundamental assumption. The consumer robot tends to be a quarter as powerful, so much weaker. They are essentially weepers and not vacuums, whereas our robot Rosie is more powerful than your standard plug-in vacuum.

SS: Rosie?

MG: Rosie is the name of our product. Inspired by the Jetson. What we see, is this huge potential, this huge world of physical data. Looking at data in the physical world, what's going on in our environment, no one is tapped into that. Yeah, there are sensors on the wall, we have thermostats for temperature and humidity, we have sensors that can be stuck in doorways to count how many people walk through areas in a given time. But it is limited because it is in one area. When you have a mobile robot that is going every square foot of the building, you can capture this data. So like a weather radar, and you can see the weather and storm coming through the area, we want to be able to visualize heat maps of certain data points, whether it is temperature, humidity, all the way to things like wifi signal strength. Like is this room, does it have bad Wi-Fi? If so, your guest might complain about it, and you might have to give them a discount, and you don't want guests to complain, or it to be an issue. So being able to be proactive and detect things before the guest and crew detect them.

SS: So I'm seeing a picture of a sort of mobile sensor unit that goes around your room, your hotel and optimizes both the ways rooms should be used, maybe it can help you understand how to shuffle the furniture around, it helps you understand if it is humidity or connectivity issues, and it helps you plan your room space much better.

MG: Exactly. So I'd say, yeah, like a mobile data platform where we have multiple sensors and we're gonna add more sensors in the future, to be able to visualize this information, just like you mentioned.

SS: So, the next picture I have in my mind is using this in a shopping center or other public spaces, and also for security purposes. Where do you draw the line?

MG: So. I think that's a really good idea. We wanted to stay hyper-focused on the cleaning side and really kind of the messaging in Zero to one. Focus on a very specific area and become the best and biggest there and expand. So that said, though, there is a huge opportunity and demand in shopping centers, malls, and other areas there. There are different types of cleaning, so there can be future products from us. We've had deals now with everything from big hotel brands to big hotel owners and management groups, as well as commercial cleaners that service office space and airports and other spaces like that. So those are some of the markets that we see huge potential for, and with that, there are other data points for those areas that can be valuable to them that aren't valuable to hotels or might not be as valuable. So as you mentioned, security is one example. So I'd say overall there is a lot of potential, we just have to do more research and discovery with these potential clients and our current clients, on what is valuable. Where do you really see the value, what are the problems you're facing on operating levels, and how can data help you solve that.

SS: Cool. Micah, my next question... I'm a little concerned about time, but at the same time, I don't know how to stop. You've studied hospitality, you care a lot about the future of the business of the industry as well. And you see Rosie and your other products as a part of new efficiencies. But what do you think are the most important trends going forward? Where do you hope that hospitality is going?

MG: That's a really good question. I think you know. It's been moving quickly in the past few years in terms of innovation and different technologies, but especially now with covid, the reality of the world is that the world has changed. The travel industry has completely changed. And of course, we will get through this, but in the meantime, we don't know exactly when. And we don't know when everything is going to go back to normal, or close to whatever normal was before. So, I think that's an important assumption, that will impact innovation and some of these operations and even the public will lean... So, I think for one just at the high-level cleaning. Cleaning isn't the sexiest thing in the world, but it is where everyone is looking right now. So yeah, it's really important for many people. I think, how do you live in a world that becomes less, that has become less about human interaction? Of course, we want to bring that back and bring back that public safety so people can interact and socialize again. But in the meantime, things like VR, virtual reality, augmented reality, having the ability to enjoy a concert potentially, and trying to get some sort of experience. It's not going to be the same, but enjoying a concert from Colorado that might be in Los Angeles, or in Norway, right. And be able to experience these things and have these experiential times that are very different from what we were, but still bringing us closer to each other and allow us to experience that. And even sports events on that same note. So I think VR and AR have huge potential there. I think really fundamentally with covid and in general, this has been a really big catalyst for automation. And I see a lot of potential for the human to focus on guest service, guest experience, and focus on that. And then some of these things that don't touch the guest, you know really could go to robotics to allow the humans to focus more on that guest experience, right. So those are just some ideas, but I think it catalyzes a lot of this innovation to come forward sooner than we thought.

SS: So I hear you say two or three things. One is that the future of hospitality is going to be probably permanently affected by things like covid, where we are going to have these extremely high expectations on cleanliness and probably some logistic processes as well. And that will require necessary efficiencies. But those who can deliver on those efficiencies are going to have a competitive advantage. So, this is going to also be a new way of selecting the new winners, and those will be the ones who can deliver a really clean and safe experience, but that is still very social, where the humans are there to help you feel belonging and interest.

MG: Totally. Yeah. I think it's really something that was more in the back of mind before, it was kind of a fundamental assumption that it would be clean in a certain way, whereas now this is going to be a front house, now people are going to be evaluating certain areas because of this. So I think some of these traits and characteristics climb up to the top to be things look at while booking. If someone feels it will be safer in a Hilton Garden Inn versus say Motel 6 or whatever, then that's going to be a driving factor, and not just cost or location or whatever it has been in the past.

SS: Micah, we talked already about the third question, which is about how do you exploit the data about this physical space. We talked about gathering different kinds of sensor data and then using them to optimize future use of the room or solve problems related to the room. Should we talk about something else there? Are there other perspectives that you see in data? Perhaps especially collected by robots?

MG: Yeah, for sure. So, I think you nailed it in terms of really looking at the environmental conditions. I think that's proactive and when I think about service, the best service I enjoy is when I don't need it. So, for example, if I'm sitting at a restaurant and there is water sitting for me, that's great because I might be thirsty. And even if I'm not, it's there if I want it. Versus if I have to wait for a server to come and I ask for water, and it's not the best experience. So that's an analogy to how I think about data. So how do we get water and give water before someone needs it? How do we provide data before someone might need it to create that seamless experience, for the guests and even the staff too? How do we better track the health or safety of the environment? Is it potential mold inside one of these rooms or properties? And being able to attach that and take care of that to be able to create a cleaner environment for the staff as well. So yeah, see the big areas that we focus on data, is like you mentioned, environmental data, operational data, just getting a sense to help inspectors and manage and understand progress throughout the day, and then the robot health as well. So being able to know when robot parts are going to go down and be proactive on service for those. So those are the key pillars and I think, you know, it's really just this huge opportunity, because when you think about a robot it is essentially a computer on wheels.

SS: Very good. You just made me think because I think a robot that cleans the room after a person has been there, has a lot of information about that person as well. If you wrecked a room or if you spilled the alcohol or have emptied the minibar. That information should be connected to your profile, one way or another, for the next time you come to the same hotel, no?

MG: Yeah. I think it is interesting to be able to connect that. I think we haven't quite integrated that yet and going to be sensitive to the guest's privacy, but at the same time, there is a lot of potential there. And even just as a small example. I like my rooms cold. So, what would be great, is if I could walk into a room and it is exactly the temperature that I like, that's service, right. Again, proactive. It knows what I want before I know what I want. So, thinking about how do you improve the guest's experience could be really powerful. And there are definitely opportunities, like say this guest is extremely dirty, so they get some extra cleaning or being able to check that. But even just thinking about water and the elements of layers can improve that guest's experience. If they need furniture moved slightly, moving the desk to the window because they like the temperature for example. Or you have a specific type of room that they seem to like. Things like that could be valuable to really get that phenomenal experience for that guest, so that that they come back.

SS: Micah, we need to round up, but I'll translate a couple of questions that you didn't understand when we wrote them to you. So, one is what you consider relevant skills for the future. And I'm asking you as a guy who knows a lot about robotics and has tech skills and also a lot of industrial hard skills when it comes to hospitality. One of the things that are going to be important is old instrumental skills, like teamwork, complex problem solving and ethics, etc. We talk a lot about that in Norway. How do you think about that in Austin?

MG: Yeah. That's really interesting. I think what you mentioned makes perfect sense. I think what's interesting, we kind of touched on it in the beginning. There is this new education coming from covid, and just in general, online education. And really this opportunity to learn so much. So I think in terms of the skill set I think not just the ability to learn, but the ability to self-teach. I think being able to do that in a way. For example, my girlfriend has been learning machine learning and AI, taking Stanford classes online. And she's able to do that because she's really excited and passionate about that. And I think when passion meets with education and opportunity there, it is amazing. So I think the ability to self-teach and really the passion and excitement about these things you can learn online. Because wherever you are around the world, it could be good. So I think that is huge. And in terms of the concept of technology, we are living in a world in which a lot of it recently has been built by AI and machine learning. The reality is, it's taken over a lot of what we do, whether it's Google, Facebook, or now in the physical world, with robotics being a physical device that we can create a brain for and intelligence for. So these are areas with huge potential in terms of becoming a, let's say, a robotic software engineer that can program a self-driving car. And all the way to creating algorithms that help on the data side and help predict what can happen. And I think that is another piece, data in general, in the digital and physical world, has been huge. When you look at these huge companies like Google and Facebook, they are fundamentally business models advertised, but it stems from data. So what other opportunities are there for data and being able to improve the world through data. So I think that's another field that is getting really interesting. So those are just some ideas on the engineering side of things. When it comes to starting your own company, one of the things that I emphasize to friends of mine and people I mentor too, is practical learning is so powerful. Like I came up with the idea for me after working as a room attendant. If I hadn't worked in a hotel, I probably wouldn't have the idea and be able to come up with an idea that people cared about, that was solving a real problem So I think just continue to do that practical learning, and where people are passionate, and having that lens of what's broken. And there's this saying that is if it's not broke, don't fix it. I think everything's broken. Everything can be fixed or improved. So having that lens and just asking yourself that question, what's broken in here, what can be improved here, has sparked interesting ideas and creativity so that people could start their own companies or whatever, whether it's robotics, an app, or whatever it might be.

SS: I loved the way that you put this thing about having the necessity of practical experience. I think you can't build a robot for processes you don't understand, and you can't build AI for a problem you don't understand. You have to understand the question you want AI to solve to build it right. And there is too much senseless... You just put AI in any company name, and their evaluation goes up by a quarter. But you have to know what you want to do with it, and I think the relevance of your point for practical experience for that can't be overestimated.

MG: Yeah. It brings this perspective, right. As you said, it's all about the problem you're trying to solve, and a lot of people can jump to solution mode. So, what is the problem here, taking a step back, it's so powerful. Whether it is coming up with an idea for a company or solving a problem within a company; start with a problem, and start with why.

SS: Start with why, as Simon said.

MG: Haha.

SS: Okay. I also asked you if you could consider all the talk about sustainability as an engine of growth. So, for a long time, we've been kind of greenwashing things by saying sustainable here and there. But the last twelve months, what we've seen, at least in this part of the world, is that it takes off. Suddenly people are willing to pay a premium and a premium is enough for you to be competitive with truly sustainable solutions. I don't think we go there, all that you do have to do with cleanliness and sustainability.

MG: Yeah, and I think the one area on sustainability is that you can become more regimented with automation, right, so for example, our robots use a tenth of the power of the traditional vacuum. And that is because there is just so much consistency there. To be honest, it wasn't the first problem we were trying to solve, but there is an opportunity when you start to bring in more regimented practices and automation that is more consistent than a human might be, to be able to provide that efficiency. Now there is so much work with battery consumption and more battery technology like Tesla, you know, and we use the same battery that Tesla uses in their cars right now.

SS: Very cool.

MG: Anyway, there is opportunity there through automation.

SS: Very cool. Last question. Do you have a sort of a quote that you tell yourself when you're in trouble when things turn out to be harder than expected?

MG: Yeah. That's a good question. A lot of these... There is one by Albert Einstein, and I honestly forget the exact quote now, but basically what he says is everything is energy. Right. It is not a philosophy. And what he means by that, is that you can create the world you want. You can visualize the world you want, and our minds are very powerful. We can either go in this direction of extreme optimism and positivity, or extreme negativity and pessimism, and the world is falling apart. And I go back and forth sometimes. Sometimes I'm always happy and positive, but you know, when things hit the fan and get difficult, it can be easy to... So, I think that mentality that everything is energy and if we remind ourselves that okay, I'm getting down here and want to get back up here, and it's going to happen, and surround ourselves with people that remind us of that and give us that support, can be really powerful. So anyway, I'll send you the quote afterward, but it is really powerful.

SS: Micah Green, from Maidbot. It was a real pleasure and a real inspiration talking to you, thank you.

MG: Yeah, thank you so much!

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Education and hobby?

Studied Hospitality Management and Entrepreneurship at Cornell University

Who are you, personally and professionally?

My name is Micah Green and I'm the founder and CEO of Maidbot. I have been an entrepreneur since the age of 7 and have loved robotics most of my life. In my free time, I enjoy making electronic music, cycling, rock climbing, and spending time with my girlfriend.

What does your organization sell, and why do people buy from you?

Maidbot sells robotics and data solutions that help increase efficiencies in commercial cleaning, reduces injuries for cleaning staff members, and delivers actionable operational and environmental data for operators.

What exactly motivates you in this assignment?

I am motivated by the potential of a world where people can do what they love; not what they have to do. With robotics, we can free up time so humans can focus on more meaningful and enjoyable activities.

What interesting new dilemmas arise in your field of innovation?

Human-robot interaction is very new and there is huge potential to help write the rules around human-robot interaction in hospitality and commercial real estate.

Your best tips for other similar companies?

If you want to get advice, ask for money. If you want to raise money, ask for advice.

Your most important projects in the last year?

We closed our Series B, survived COVID, and reset the strategy for the company to succeed moving forward.

Who inspires you?

My mother - Cindy Estis Green - has been a major inspiration in her success in business and her values as a human being.

What do we do uniquely well in Norway?

We have several strong partners in the hospitality and commercial cleaning industry for deployments in Norway.

Main new perspectives from Covid?

New problems came out of COVID - the public has a higher standard of cleanliness, human interaction has been minimized, and operators have to rethink operations from ground zero. This provides a major opportunity to scale automation in many industries.

Your best management tips?

The best leaders have their team members lead them. Hiring incredible A players that can lead and contribute significantly is so important. And when someone is not working out culturally or on their skill set, act quickly.

A favorite quote or life motto?

The best way to predict the future is to create it - Abraham Lincoln

Micah Green
Founder, President and CEO
Maidbot
CASE ID: C0823
TEMA: SECTOR RELATED INNOVATION
DATE : 200929
DURATION : 50 min
LITERATURE:
Zero to One (by Peter Thiel), Endurance (Shackleton's journey), Steve Jobs (by Walter Isaacson) , Be Here Now (by Ram Das)
YOU WILL LØRN ABOUT:
The importance of asking for adviceHuman-robot interaction Entrepreneurship Increasing efficiencies in commercial cleaning
QUOTE
"Human-robot interaction is very new and there is huge potential to help write the rules around human-robot interaction in hospitality and commercial real estate"
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