min read
Robotical Case Study ft. Marty the robot
In partnership with
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James Trotman
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James Trotman
June 3, 2024
June 3, 2024

Robotical: Growing global with Scottish EDGE and Techscaler

Founder of Robotical, Dr Alexander Enoch, shares his startup to scaleup story and the company's experience with Scottish EDGE, Techscaler and Reforge.

With a PhD in walking robotics, Robotical founder Dr Alexander Enoch (Sandy) has created the perfect educational companion in “Marty”, the coding robot! 

When coming up with the idea, Sandy’s main inspiration was his 6 year old niece. He wanted to create a human-like robot, full of character, that she could use to make learning the basics of coding more like child’s play and less like hard work.

Designed to encourage a fun and creative way for children to learn coding, Marty moves, dances and even wiggles his eyebrows to programming languages taught alongside curriculum linked lessons. Marty brings coding to life.

8 years after incorporating, Edinburgh based Robotical has now sold over 10k robots in over 65 countries and employs 10 people including their first team member in the USA.

In 2014 Sandy began searching for inspiration on how to turn his expertise and concept into a business and sought support from the Scottish tech ecosystem. Completing an enterprise fellowship with Royal Academy of Engineering and winning the award for design and creativity in Converge Challenge gave Sandy the confidence to pursue further growth.

After using these awards for prototyping and product development, Sandy opened a presales crowdfunding round alongside entering (and winning) Scottish EDGE round 8. Sandy sees direct correlation between the two: 

The win at Scottish Edge definitely gave a boost to the crowdfunding campaign, and when we went on to raise seed investment the following year it was a stamp of credibility that gave our investors further confidence in our abilities. Scottish EDGE remains one of the most reputable organisations in the Scottish ecosystem.” 

Winning Scottish EDGE gave Robotical an immediate cash injection in the form of 30k loan and 30k grant. This allowed Sandy to hire more employees, bringing in expertise to take the business to the next level.

Seeing the difficulties hardware companies face in the UK, Sandy and the team soon began exploring international opportunities:

With the cost of low volume manufacturing in Scotland we have to prototype electronics in China. For Marty V1 we did our plastics moulding in Scotland and our physical assembly onsite, but it was very challenging. Founders of hardware companies have more complications than typical software companies unfortunately. A lot of my time was spent packing boxes and managing warehouses and logistics, things many tech companies never come across.

Being able to use funding from EDGE to hire created more time which at all stages in the startup / scaleup journey remains the most valuable asset.

In an unintended consequence of the Scottish ecosystem and tech community, Sandy stumbled across his next lead investor and mentor. Showcasing to children interested in coding at a Prewired event at Codebase Edinburgh, one particular parent took a keen interest in Marty and the impact it was having on the young people in attendance. This particular parent kept in touch and not long after, it was revealed they were a serial investor with a keen interest in helping the business progress. 

Sandy reflects that a strong investor relationship is key in the scaling of any tech company:

We are very fortunate to have met a network of investors who appreciate and encourage our mindset. Exploration, discovery and pivoting to keep up with the market are key. For any startup I would encourage them to do their homework on their investors. Investor relationships are like a marriage, you are in regular close contact and it’s vital that you can work as a team and leverage each other's strengths to achieve success.

With investment, and a growing international demand, the team continued to grow with Sandy adding experienced marketer Natalya Ratner and start up sales guru Ben Henderson Palmer.

Part of joining the team means you get a Marty robot to take home with you. Natalya, reflects that she wasn’t convinced about staying on permanently until she saw the impact of the product:

When I first took on the job, I didn’t yet ‘get’ Marty. It wasn’t until I took one home that I had my ‘Eureka’ moment. My son started coding immediately, as if he’s programmed a robot before and my five-year-old daughter was completely infatuated and even snuck the robot into her bed at night! I saw the effect Marty has on children and triggers their thirst for learning. I knew I had to stay on after that.”

With the team growing and market demand expanding, Sandy focussed on creating a team culture with emphasis on personal development. Already finding time in short supply he looked to the Scottish tech ecosystem to help:

Looking outwards and exploring international opportunities whilst navigating complications of piecing together a hardware product means time is my most precious commodity. I wanted my team to be at the top of their game and receive world class education to help both the business and the individuals grow.”

When Techscaler launched, I saw their offering of Reforge seats for scaleup employees and saw this as the perfect match.

Through Scottish government funding, tech scaleups with over 10 employees are eligible to join Reforge, which offers worldwide cohorts to receive industry leading advice and playbooks relating to growth, product, marketing and engineering.

Marketing director Natalya has experience across global travel, luxury and fashion brands and was amazed at the quality of speakers and content she accessed on the marketing course:

I signed up for the Marketing Strategy course because the executive in residence was Joanna Lord of Skyscanner fame. The content was incredible and I immediately put the playbooks into practice at Robotical. The weekly case studies were from global startups like Nerdwallet and Duolingo - I couldn’t get enough. To learn from some of the best in the world from our base in Edinburgh was such an incredible opportunity and one I encourage any scaleup to participate in.”

Chief commercial officer Ben completed Reforge’s Growth Series course and reflects on his experience:

Working with a worldwide cohort helped me understand that a lot of the problems we were facing weren’t unique and we weren’t alone. Seeing some practices that we already apply included in playbooks gave us validation that we are doing the right thing. The cohort could sometimes be slightly challenging, in that global start ups with multiple employees had very specific roles, however this helps provide aspiration and influence in our growth journey.”

With the exposure and experience gained, both Natalya and Ben are keen to share their knowledge and now act as Techscaler mentors alongside Scottish EDGE relationship manager Myles Bax.

Natalya believes it’s key to share such experiences within the ecosystem:

I’ve had my mind blown by the resources I’ve been exposed to. Through working with Techscaler and Scottish EDGE I’m able to share some of what I've learned and help apply it to a vast range of early stage companies. It’s amazing as a mentor to have access to such great educational materials, and connections to signpost to, to help founders on their growth journey.

Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting developments from Robotical on products 2 and 3!

Scottish EDGE round 24 set to open for applications in Autumn 24

Navigate elsewhere on our website to access Reforge courses or learn more about the mentorship mentioned.

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