Waypoint CEO Jason Walker recently sat down with Danny Gonzalez from IndustrialSage for a deep dive into the importance of building a trusted brand when working to grow your company. Jason recognized early on that establishing Waypoint as a leader in the robotics space meant more than “just” building the best robot. Communicating why this is important for workers (and their companies) is a key part of Waypoint’s messaging strategy.
Jason evangelizes a strong belief that autonomous mobile robot tools must be designed for today’s workforce because these workers know the tasks at hand and will be best at employing tools to improve processes. Workers with better tools can focus their attention on higher value, less back-breaking tasks and go home at the end of the day with more energy for their families. And companies that invest in their workforce have an easier time attracting and retaining talent in this difficult labor market.
Jason expands on this during the 30-min interview and explains how providing helpful and consistent content for those shopping for better automation tools has been instrumental in growing Waypoint’s brand and connecting with more customers.
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And here’s an edited excerpt:
Why Robots for Workers
For those who aren’t familiar with who you are, just let us know who you guys are. You guys are a startup. Tell me that story.
Yeah, so Waypoint Robotics, we’re going on three years and we’re making autonomous mobile robots for factories and we’re really trying to build tools that small to mid-size manufacturers will find cost effective and easy to deploy. And one of the main ways we’re doing that is by building a robot that is easy to use, not in the context of robotics engineers, but in the context of the people who are moving materials now. So the assembly line workers, the shipping and receiving clerks, the dock workers. Those are the people that we intend to own this tool and to set up the robot and configure it and reconfigure it and use it and deploy it.
And so we think that in a situation like we’ve had where there’s this huge labor shortage, if we can empower the workforce with great tools, they can be the ones that create that extra efficiency and increase their own capabilities, get involved in industry 4.0, and help their companies be competitive in a very dynamic global market.
Awesome. Well there’s definitely a lot of – you mentioned, big topic buzzword – Industry 4.0, a lot going on in the space. But one of the challenges that you guys have had and when we were talking before off camera a little bit was with this whole move with this new shift in technology, Industry 4.0, – especially as it comes to robotics – sometimes there’s this idea that these robots are going to come in and totally take away people’s jobs. How do you guys, how have you addressed that?
Well, we’ve addressed this. So that was one of the things on a personal level that we really felt like we wanted to reconcile. We care about the workforce. We don’t want them to be left behind or not included; and that’s a big part of what drove us to do this. And so, philosophically that’s what drives it.
The companies love their people and the people love their companies, and they just need better tools. And so philosophically that’s where it comes from; but on a more technical level if you look at the data, the data shows that countries and states and organizations that adopt robotics and automation technology actually have increased productivity growth. They have increased GDP. All the data points to the robotics and automation actually creates jobs, creates opportunity, creates more revenue.
But there is a part of the workforce that can get left behind and the low-skilled workers are the ones who are susceptible, as the data shows, to being excluded from that rising tide that raises all boats. And so that is exactly the person that we want to be able to give the tools to be able to do that work, but in a much more efficient way. And if you’re a company that’s trying to hire more workers and you can’t find enough help, or you need to increase your efficiency to be more competitive, if you don’t need to go find a roboticist to go with your new robot and you can use the folks you have there already that you know and trust, then you’re solving multiple problems simultaneously. And so that’s some of the reasons why we’ve worked so hard to build a great robot that we can make easy to use that we can put in the hands of the existing workforce and empower them to strengthen their company and strengthen the economy.
That’s awesome. So what are some specific use cases for some of the problems that you guys are solving? I guess you said, it’s not exclusive to inside warehousing and docks but– I assume, unless if I’ve got that wrong. But what are some of the typical use case?
Yes, we built this product so that it would work well in a small to mid-size manufacturing environment. Think of the family-owned, 50-year-old machine shop that has been working great the whole time even without wifi. And that’s a tough environment for an autonomous mobile robot for a handful of reasons.
One of them is that you’re not going to tear down the facility and rebuild it around the capabilities of the mobile robot. And another one is that the work tends to change every day or every week, and so if you have a robot that cannot be configured and reconfigured by the people you have on site, then it is immediately a non-starter to be able to deploy it. So we built a robot that would work well in that manufacturing environment and if it can work well in the most chaotic and difficult of environments, then it works great for warehousing and we have customers who are deploying them that way; and it works great in larger, more organized manufacturing operations for much larger companies and is being deployed that way.
Cutting through the Noise
Awesome, no that totally makes sense…But let’s talk about startup. Maybe there’s a little bit of that messaging, misconception, challenge to get out there. And also from being a startup, getting your name and all that out there, from a sales and marketing standpoint. Obviously this a very emerging technology, emerging markets. It’s not mature by any stretch of the imagination. It’s kind of like the wild, wild west a little bit.
What have you guys done in order to kind of break through that? I think it’s sort of a two-part question. One, what are you using to address those misconceptions? And then also, what are you using to generate that awareness, that, “Hey, we’re here”?
Yeah, we do and always have done a lot of inbound marketing. We’ve always been exceptionally brand conscious, and brand equity is built through consistency and through commitment and dedication. And so we put that into the recipe for the company from day one, and into the products.
And so we charted a path early, very specifically, and we have stuck with it and we have added to it. And so building brand equity is really important to communicating the truth of the fact that although we’re a startup, we’re a stable and permanent company. We are a privately-funded startup, and so our objectives are long-term. We are long-term thinkers. We’re not thinking about the next quarter, we’re not thinking about the next round of funding; we’re thinking about what is going to make our customers and our partners happy so that they keep coming back and they tell their friends. And so that kind of thing is baked in from the beginning. That’s where it starts.
And then search engine optimization, SEO, inbound marketing techniques, those have really been tools that we’ve relied on very heavily to be able to create the, try to open our doors as wide as we can so that people who are looking for an autonomous mobile robot can find us. And we still find people who say, “Wow, I can’t believe I just learned about you.” So there’s always more work to be done, but those tools are really effective and video has been an exceptionally effective tool. And we are going to trade shows, and events, and being involved in the community, and talking to FIRST clubs, it’s all part of it. It all makes a difference and it has an accumulative effect.
And so, you know there’s that old thing about, “You know you’re wasting half your advertising dollars but you don’t know which half”? We’re not in that situation, but it’s kind of a nice way to frame the idea that it’s really hard to point to one single thing that you do and say, “That’s the thing. If you do that, then you’ll get customers.”
We sold a robot to one of the biggest logistics companies on earth and we were able to go back through our data and see trade show visits and website visits and email conversations going back for the whole history of the company, and they bought a robot midyear. So, and I think if they hadn’t seen us at all the shows and if they hadn’t seen the permanence and they hadn’t seen the growth, that it would’ve been harder to take that risk on a startup.
The Value of Valuable Content
Oh yeah, absolutely, I mean you mentioned something earlier on just about from the sustainability standpoint…and I think that that’s definitely, that’s another big challenge. I think they’d be able to come across and say, “Hey listen, these are the new kids on the block over here. And are they going to be here tomorrow?” Those are the real things.
So having those touches over that time absolutely makes sense. So you mentioned inbound & SEO, are you guys blogging a lot on different topics? Are there particular industries that you focus on versus not? Or is it– what does that look like?
We do work really hard on content creation and we try to have things that are generally useful. A lot of what we think about and what we talk about is of course rooted in our company, our products and what we want to do for the customer. And so there’s naturally a lot of the content we make that’s peppered with what we do because the reason we’re talking about it is because we care about it.
And when we’re talking about a problem that people who are shopping for robots need to know about and need to know what their options are and what the pitfalls are, and then when we use our own products as an example of how to do it in a way that we think avoids those pitfalls that’s kind of marketing. But it’s also generally useful, and so we have what we hear from the experts is an extraordinarily high open rate and click-through-rate on our email campaign.
Even if somebody’s not going to buy a robot from me, ultimately, if I can help them out and in doing so help out the robotics community and help out the customers that are being served, then that’s good for everyone.
If you are looking to reach more customers through powerful and informative video content, reach out to the experts at IndustrialSage. And contact us to empower your workforce and improve your operations with easy-to-use autonomous mobile robots, like Vector™ and MAV3K™. We are happy to help!