Reach Robotics, a Bristol, United Kingdom-based consumer robotics company, has shut down its consumer robotics business. Reach Robotics Co-Founder Silas Adekunle made the announcement on LinkedIn.
The Robot Report emailed Reach Robotics Co-Founder John Rees and received an automated response that said, “the decision has been made to close the business and appoint administrators, effective as of 02/09/2019.”
Reach Robotics raised a total of $7.8 million, according to Crunchbase. It launched its MekaMon gaming robots in late 2016 that combine augmented reality (AR) and a four-legged toy robot. Essentially, the MekaMon robot moves around a physical space while users battle virtual enemies through an AR game on an app. Reach Robotics launched version 2 of MekaMon about 10 months ago.
In a post called “Reach Robotics – End of the Road,” Adekunle mentioned the “consumer robotics sector is an inherently challenging space – especially for a start-up.” Below is Adekunle’s LinkedIn post reprinted in its entirety:
“Unfortunately, for Reach Robotics, in its current form at least, today marks the end of that journey.
“I am immensely proud of what we have achieved. Since founding Reach Robotics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, we made huge strides in our technology both in terms of our hardware and app development. We took MekaMon from prototype to market, introduce the world to the first gaming robot with seamless AR integration, launched in dozens of territories and developed a unique education offering that will live on through many initiatives.
“This simply could not have happened without the highly skilled and creative people that have been part of the Reach Robotics journey. I speak for myself and my fellow co-founders Chris Beck and John Rees when I say it has been a privilege and we have no doubt that they will continue to innovate and enrich the sector. Personally, I am grateful for the experience, lessons learnt, the connections and the opportunity to inspire young people from under-represented backgrounds in STEM and entrepreneurship.
“I am thankful to everyone who has been a part of this journey, from my co-founders Chris and John, who have been there through thick and thin, to members of the management team who were supportive in the most difficult of times, Jonathan Quinn, Kathryn Green, Philip Green just to name a few.
“Thank you to all of our investors, advisers, mentors, family and friends over the years. Special thanks to UWE, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Pervasive Media Studio, SetSquared and so many others who have supported our growth. Reach Robotics began with the vision of creating advanced and accessible robotics to entertain, inspire and educate. I hope to carry that vision forward into the future.
View this post on Instagram
Some update! Reach Robotics is closing down today due to tough business circumstances (Consumer Robotics space is tough). This is an ever-present, inherent risk when it comes to start-up companies, especially those in the consumer robotics space. I’ve always been comfortable with the fact that there will be some minor set-backs on this journey as an entrepreneur. It’s been a challenging, exciting and rewarding 6 years full of learning. To take MekaMon and the vision behind Reach Robotics from ideas in a note book, to touching many lives worldwide. A lot of the work and vision behind MekaMon and ReachEDU will continue through various channels. Personally, I am grateful for the experience, lessons learnt, the connections and the opportunity to inspire young people from under-represented backgrounds in STEM and entrepreneurship. Thank you to all my followers for your cheers, support and sharing! Following some travel and much needed rest, I’m looking forward to sharing some exciting new ventures in the Robotics Space in Europe and Education in Africa and the Middle East. For now, expect some content as I get back to nature and travel across Africa (multiple countries :wink:)
“Following some travel and much needed rest, the journey will continue in the Non consumer Robotics sector and the STEAM Education sector.”
The Times, a British newspaper, reported in July 2019 Reach Robotics was cash-strapped. The report said, “It is under pressure from a creditor and is looking for investment or a sale to stave off collapse. Reach filed notice of its intention to appoint an administrator last week, giving it 10 working days to settle its debts. It has been laying off some of its 30 staff.”
Adekunle fired back, however, telling BusinessCloud, “sometimes you file to give yourself just enough time to settle creditors so you’re not forced into liquidation where the assets then become at risk.” The report added that Reach Robotics was in “due diligence discussions for acquisition as it repositions itself from a consumer-facing robotics firm to one with education at its core.”
Reach Robotics launched a division in May 2019 aimed at the STEM education sector called ReachEdu. It is unclear if ReachEdu will continue as a business unit. The Robot Report contacted Adekunle and other representatives for clarification. This story will be updated if new information is uncovered.
Update on Sept. 4, 2019 at 10:15 AM EST: Reach Robotics Co-Founder Silas Adekunle told The Robot Report via email that the business entity, Reach Robotics, is closing while he focuses on new things.
Mike Radice says
Here we go, again. The new robot models need to avoid the “fad’ factor. It quickly gets boring. Market sizes are too small, market lives are too short for ‘FAD” bots. I look forward to this team returning and climbing to the next plateau.
Rian Whitton says
Mayfield, Jibo, Anki and now Reach. This is why our research team moved consumer robots to a subsidiary of Smart Home and stopped analysing this market from a ‘robotics’ perspective. They don’t seem to solve any clear problem or fill any major need that consumers have. The aforementioned companies developed robots that had some of the capabilities of;
– games consoles
– tablets and smartphones
– home entertainment systems
– general-purpose smart home devices
But in every case, they were either more expensive or less impressive than the solutions already provided. Given the development of the video games market, is there much longterm interest in duelling robots? Consumers are already saturated with gadgetry, and the trend has been towards multipurpose systems that reduce hardware complexity and variation.
Companies have often tried to emphasize research and education when consumer opportunities were spent, but its yet to be seen if this market requires any new start-ups. Plenty of evidence suggests the introduction of e-learning and low-grade technology actually stunts children’s development, as showcased in this excellent article https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2019/08/rotten-stem-how-technology-corrupts-education/
Michael Leventhal says
“Rotten Stem How Technology Corrupts Education” is an interesting article but not an excellent one. It is pure hyperbole, as bad as some of the hyperbole that comes from the other side. Engineering is not taught as part of science and has not been taught in schools before university. The author demonstrates clearly his complete incomprehension of the intellectual foundations of engineering. STEM is a faddish name for the introduction of engineering in school curriculums and with it the acquisition of the ability to reason and act in a society in which technology touches every aspect of our lives. The EdTech industry may, indeed, capitalise on a philosophical and pedagogical movement in the interest of peddling goods, and their contribution may not always be in the best interest of education nor good pedagogy. It is up to educators to integrate STEM into their classrooms such that it produces meaningful and effective learning. There is the classic problem that a vanishingly small number of educators understand the subjet having themselves been educated under the precepts of an older system. They do not understand engineering and they be incapable in determining how to incorporate it into curriculum and are therefore captive to what is peddled to them by EdTech companies. As an educator working in a country that does not have internet connections in schools, computers for every students, or “gadgets”, ideal conditions according the author, I can attest that our students are not competitive with students that do have access to such things. Would that the author knew what it is to have massive unemployment because students do not have skills to survive in the modern world. While STEM learning trains minds as much or more than any other intellectual discipline, I, for one, would never sneer at it because it also happens to develop skills that are intensely sought by employers.
Steve Crowe says
Hope you’re well sir. Thanks as always for your insightful commentary. I agree with categorizing some of these devices as Smart Home technologies. But I do think we often overlook the value of entertainment after these companies shut down. I don’t know if I’d call it a problem, per se, but people want to be entertained in life and spend lots of money on entertainment – books, music, sports, toys, traveling, TV, etc.
One of the keynotes at the recent Robotics Summit touched on these companies shutting down and referenced the boredom factor. Fact of the matter is these products just don’t entertain for a long enough period of time. And the companies don’t churn out products frequently enough (they’re expensive and timely to produce) to compensate for the boredom factor.
Paul Reeder says
I don’t know but I can speculate That, in the case of Mekamon, I believe the biggest hurdle is the re-playability factor. At least in my opinion. Now, if they would have come up with other ways of playing, Mostly updates including more functionality, different locations/backgrounds, more programmable movements, maybe adding other physical stuff such as various other weapons to plug in. Weapons that animate on the robot as well as in the APP. BTW, what was the plug in the top back that never gets used for? Seems they could have continued developing that, instead of just leaving it empty. Or were they just like every other company that failed? What I mean is, did they let their greed override their common sense? Did greed cause them to start other projects and leave this one sitting on a shelf while they concentrated on those other projects, instead of further developing the Mekamon? I guess we will never know the answers.