Today we welcome Boris Kesler, the creator of the robot Winky and his amazing metaverse. Have a good read!
Can you introduce yourself in a few words? What is your personal and professional relationship with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Department at Polytechnique?
My name is Boris, I am the founder of Mainbot, a startup that created the educational robot Winky and the world of content that revolves around it. Mainbot is among all the first supporters of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center at École Polytechnique since we entered the X-UP incubator in 2017 (X-UP Promo #4)! We continue to interact regularly with the center through testimonials and occasional coaching with incubated and accelerated project holders and startups.
What is Winky and the associated metaverse project?
Robotics, like Winky, is a tool. But we gave Winky a design that makes him very endearing and makes children want to interact with him. Winky is therefore an educational robot that can be customized and connected to a whole universe dedicated to the development of skills related to the world of tomorrow. The next stage of development is not a Winky 2; unlike many hardware projects, our ambition is not to create a new version quickly, but rather to make the current version of Winky evolve constantly thanks to an infinite number of accessories.
The challenge is to create the Winkyverse, a metaverse in which Winky will be the hero! When I created Mainbot 5 years ago, we focused on robotics and programming, but technology is evolving at high speed. Today, we can't pretend to prepare children for the world to come without introducing families to blockchain, cryptocurrencies, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and the concept of the metaverse that will be part of our daily lives in a few years.
One of the parts of the Metaverse is called the Winky Maker, it will allow kids and artists to design their own accessories for Winky, to make each Winky unique: hats, glasses, different bodies with tracks, legs etc.
We will also allow the more experienced to imagine hardware modules with the Winky Idea part: modules with wheels, wings, a video projector, or any other crazy idea! The projects will be voted by the community, and we will keep the best ideas to industrialize and distribute them all over the world. Winky is a universe unto itself!
In 2019 you launched a funding campaign on Ulule, breaking the platform's records with more than 230,000 euros to launch your educational robot Winky, achieving by the end of 2020 a turnover of 1 million euros. What does this commercial success mean?
This success has shown that there is a real craze among families to prepare their children for tomorrow's world. To date, Winky Robot has already taught robotics and programming to more than 5,000 families and we should reach 50,000 customers by the end of the year, especially with our launches in the UK, Germany and the US.
We are launching our ICO (Initial Coin Offering) on October 25th with a private sale that will allow our networks (shareholders, partners, customers etc...) and strategic investors to buy Winkies tokens at 60% off the ICO price. We already have more than 100 investment intentions, so we're confident that we'll be able to close the private sales sooner than expected!
Can you tell us about your partners? What are their contributions to your company and your product?
We have many partners, Tralalère is our educational guarantee, it has been working for more than 20 years in this sector and it is with them that we put a particular focus on education. We also have Sandbox on the metaverse side, Ultra on the NFT side, Lexibook on the industrial side, and Plug In Digital on the distribution and content side. We are delighted to see that the project has attracted the biggest French names in crypto : Coinhouse and Ledger have indeed shown interest in our project. The CEO of Coinhouse has also joined the project as an investor and advisor. We are also in discussion with Ledger, one of the French crypto-currency unicorns.
But we also plan to develop Winky in schools! We are already in 30 elementary schools and will soon arrive in American colleges by the end of 2022. However, while it is important for the brand image, the educational B2B market remains slow in the face of educational innovations...
Are these new partnerships related to your Winkyverse project?
Yes, they are! We are going to create an editorial charter with them to make sure that the publishers who will join our metaverse will always keep an educational angle on their contents, it is a real necessity with our targeting towards children and young adults.
The ambition with this metaverse is to make Winky accessible to children everywhere in the world, the Winkyverse will be downloadable for free and will allow any child to discover Winky. To go further and really interact in the metaverse, and play in it, we are working on making Winky the indispensable robot!
Doesn't the diversification of your services risk losing your consumers?
Contrary to what one might think, Mainbot's mission is not to design robots but to prepare children for the world of today and tomorrow. The creation of our Metaverse is perfectly in line with our mission. Our Metaverse project will allow us to go much further in the education of future generations by also including: augmented reality, blockchain and artificial intelligence.
As for the marketing targeting of our consumers, we propose an image of Winky as a cute robot with thousands of accessible contents in a connected universe. We don't want to lose consumers with terms like "NFTs", "blockchain" or "metaverse", which are still not widely used today!
At the beginning of 2020, Mainbot wanted to raise €1.5 million to expand internationally and reach €5 million in sales by the end of 2021. What about today? Can you tell me about your last Crowd Equity campaign?
The fundraising was a great success, we even raised more than expected (1.8 million) and Winky is coming to the UK, Germany and the US at Christmas at the end of the year. The banks and the BPI have come to top up the project with an additional 1.2 million euros. We were in the top 5 of the most funded projects in the history of the Crowd Equity platform with over 600 investors! This has once again demonstrated that Winky is an extremely popular mainstream product with families and investors.We are therefore extremely confident about the success of our ICO (Initial Coin Offering) project for which the amounts invested are traditionally 10 to 20 times higher than in Crowd Equity.
In terms of turnover, we will most probably reach not 5 million as we had planned, but rather 20 million in turnover by the end of 2021! Notably with the sale of Winkies tokens to access our Metaverse during our ICO which is underway.
Cryptocurrencies are disrupting financial institutions and financing solutions, and Mainbot seems to be paying attention to this trend. Can you tell us about your made-in-Mainbot cryptocurrency project?
This is not only the first metaverse project but also the first crypto project that includes a physical bot. This is one of the main assets that attracted the project's advisors and investors and convinced them to join us.
Concerning the interest of launching our own crypto-currency, it lies in two points:
First of all from a financial point of view, creating a crypto-currency allows us to raise non-dilutive funds that generate revenue and this without having to go through traditional equity fundraising. This allows us, for example, to pay our partners and our content creators with this crypto-currency (publishers of audio-books, mini-videos...) without increasing our working capital needs related to the production of our robot. A real boon!
The other interest is from the user's point of view. By buying our virtual currency (winkies tokens), the user gains rights by being part of the community: he can vote to favour such or such project of upgrade of the Winky for example. They can also buy NFTs with this currency, which they can trade with other members of the Winkyverse and even print them in 3D! But users can also use this cryptocurrency in a more traditional way: storing tokens and letting them grow. The ecosystem logic is driving this crypto-winky project here.
What are the next steps and financial challenges for Mainbot? Your ambitions seem to require significant capital contributions, are these needs on the way to being met?
The next financial challenges are twofold:
The success of our ICO from October 25th with a target of raising about 20 million euros is a first step. About 20% of this amount will be closed by the end of September with private investors who will have the opportunity to buy the winkies tokens at 60% off the public price during the ICO.
The second challenge will be to successfully list our tokens on exchanges within 30 days of the end of the ICO to make them as liquid as possible. In this sense, from the beginning of January we will launch a communication campaign with 38,000 media around the world to democratize the crypto-winky.
For the achievement of our long-term goals, it is crucial for us to increase the price of the token with a target of x10 over the next year compared to the price of the ICO. In this respect, we are fortunate to be accompanied by our advisors who will be able to introduce us to many international exchanges and we are planning a marketing campaign of 500,000€ / month over 2022 to ensure a massive international adoption of Winkies tokens.
-Learn more about the project at: www.getwinkies.com
-Fill in the online form to be informed of the steps to invest: https://bit.ly/3DvxcqX
Finally, what is your vision of robotics? What mutation is possible?
I have a vision of robotics based on scalability and improvement of the initial product. I think this approach is beneficial for the user, the company and the planet. In my opinion, robotics will mutate towards home automation and personal assistance. We are on the verge of seeing robotic butlers in our homes!