Smart Thinking

The secret of my success: Silas Adekunle

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The 26-year-old Londoner founded Reach Robotics in 2013, raised $10m, and now sells his robots in Apple stores

What’s the big idea?

MekaMon. It’s an entertainment platform embodied by a robot. When you buy your robot, it’s different from other people’s because you can customise the way it performs, the way it looks. You’ve got a robot you can play with, you can learn to code with it, or you can have single- player experience using augmented reality.

How did you come up with that?

From a very young age I’ve always loved robotics, and at university I started teaching it in schools. From that, and being a gamer, I wanted to combine the best in robotics with the best lessons learnt from the gaming world.

What motivates you?

I come from a background that wasn’t particularly privileged. I was born in Nigeria and moved here where I was 11. So my natural drive is always to be better than my parents were. That’s always been my motivation.

How do you see yourself – entrepreneur, businessman, or something else?

I’ve never thought of myself as a business guy. Growing up, I wanted to be a robotics engineer. But I tried a few different roles and they didn’t give me the things I enjoy. I’ve had to do it myself.

Is the future full of robots?

The world is on the road to complete transformation. And that’s going to have a lot of impact on our lives and culture. The next step from a consumer robotics point of view is how do they interact with us in a meaningful way? How do they enhance our lives? We want to inspire and educate with robotic technology. We have many things we want to do in terms of developing products to enrich people’s lives.

But the robots will take all the jobs, right?

It’s a natural human concern, but we’ve had that worry before. Everyone worried that the Industrial Revolution would displace human workforces, and in the end it actually developed more industries. Humanity will always find new things to do. Technology has proven again and again that it creates more industries.

What’s the secret of your success?

First, there’s no fixed way. Just get out there and form your own path. Secondly, talk to lots of people. With all the major moments with Reach Robotics I can point out the single piece of interaction that enabled them. When you share ideas, they come together and turn into better things. The third thing is time. It’s your most precious asset. Don’t forget to spend time with your loved ones. Everyone needs balance.