X-STORIES | Boris Kesler | Founder & CEO of Mainbot

Mainbot Team and Winky

Boris Kesler (center), Winky (Boris Hands) and all the Mainbot Team.

|CREATING AND DEVELOPING MEANINGFUL DOMESTIC ROBOTS|

Behind the human

Can you introduce yourself in a few words? What has been your background?

I’m Boris Kesler, I’ve been passionate about robotics since I was a child. I studied at the IE Business School in Madrid. I became involved in entrepreneurship during my studies. I started a first company of high-end connected watches before creating Mainbot.

What made you want to start a business? What was your path to entrepreneurship? Did you grow up in a family of entrepreneurs?

Being a lifelong fan of robots, I wanted to contribute to the world of new technologies and create my own robots. Moreover, I always liked to federate and promote projects. I actually grew up in a family of entrepreneurs: my father founded a communication support agency for political figures and my maternal grandfather created and managed a major newspaper in South America.

What does entrepreneurship mean to you (in one word/one sentence)?

Entrepreneurship is about having freedom all the while making an impact on society.

In your opinion, what does it take to be a good entrepreneur?

Above all, you have to be determined, know how to take a beating and keep moving forward. Another quality lies in the ability to recognise one’s limits and to overcome them by uniting talented people around one’s project.

Can you tell us about the meeting with your partner(s) ?

I launched Mainbot with two friends: Antoine, a robotics fan, and Javier, a fellow IE student who is particularly gifted in digital marketing. Since then, they both left for other adventures. My girlfriend Amanda convinced me not to give up and joined the project as Communications Director, as well as Pierre-Yves who brought us his experience as a former R&D Director at HP and who is now Technical Director.

Do you have a role model when it comes to entrepreneurship? A mentor ? Someone who inspires you in your approach whether he/she is an entrepreneur or not? And why?

I admire Bruno Maisonnier, the founder of Alderaban Robotics, who is notably at the origin of the famous NAO and Pepper robots. He is both an inspiration and a mentor. I am proud to count him in Mainbot’s capital today. I also like the values conveyed by Elon Musk, a very philanthropic, pragmatic and intelligent person with a huge impact: PayPal, Tesla, and today he wants to conquer the universe…

« Entrepreneurship is about having freedom all the while making an impact on society »
Boris Kesler, founder & CEO of Mainbot

Behind the startup

Can you introduce us to your startup? How did you get the idea? What problem does it address?

Mainbot has developed Winky, a small educational robot that prepares children of primary and secondary school age for the world of today and tomorrow by teaching them about computers and robotics through intelligent content. We are convinced that mastering these aspects will be essential for everyone in the years to come. The idea came to me when I watched my little nephews playing with a tablet, offering to teach them how the device works in real life and how to program the games they play.

What were the major stages you went through in the development of your startup? What were the difficulties you had to overcome?

The first step was to start from the blank sheet of paper to define the contours of our project. Then there was the stage of our passage to the X-Up incubator, which was crucial for prototyping and financing, followed by a fund-raising campaign that allowed us to move on to the manufacturing phase of the product for large-scale commercialization. I would say that finding the funds is an issue at every stage. Moving from a prototype to a product that can be manufactured and commercialized on a large scale is a huge and very difficult step. I would also say that finding the right co-founders is a major difficulty, at least an issue not to be underestimated.

Can you tell us about your experience at the Polytechnique Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center? How did the center benefit your startup?

This stay at the X’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center has really helped to strengthen our credibility thanks to the very name of Polytechnique. It also made it easier for us to obtain funding to bring our project to life. We also greatly appreciated the mentors’ support and their critical eye, who weren’t afraid to tell us the things we didn’t want to hear… but that we needed to hear for the sustainability of our project. Finally, the FabLab allowed us to save time during prototyping.

How is belonging to the X startup community important for your startup?

For us, this is essential: this community has a large address book and you can almost be put in contact with «whoever you want»: mentors, partners, investment funds…

Any advice for an entrepreneur who would like to get started?

I would say that you first need to choose the right co-founders, who are very talented in their field with complementary skills to yours, and with whom you are aligned in terms of values. Then you have to be really determined: go all the way or none at all.