This tech CEO reveals how he secured SoftBank funding by selling a simple but bold vision
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- Brain Corp secured funding from the Japanese mega fund SoftBank in 2017 thanks to its grand but simple vision for the future of robotics.
- The firm’s cofounder and CEO, Eugene Izhikevich, says that he wants to build machines that can take care of humans — and that it resonated with SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.
- Speaking with Business Insider, Izhikevich said that robots could be as big as the internet and that his company might one day be compared to Microsoft.
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It’s often said that startups need to dream big to be successful. Uber did not sell itself as another taxi firm — it wanted to kill the car and make the planet greener. Facebook was not just another way to chat with friends and family — it wanted to connect the world.
Brain Corp, an artificial-intelligence firm that turns everyday machines into autonomous robots, has equally grand ambitions. And it’s a big reason the San Diego-based startup was able to secure funding from SoftBank as part of a $114 million series C raise in 2017.
To this end, Brain Corp does not just build robots that clean floors (about 2,000 of its machines can be found working to keep Walmart stores spotless). The company builds robots that take care of humans.
“My strategy for raising money from investors is very simple: I share my vision with them,” Eugene Izhikevich, the cofounder and CEO of Brain Corp, told Business Insider. “I share with them my view of the future, where robots are taking care of us and making our lives better, easier, happier.”
This was the vision Izhikevich sold to SoftBank — and it just so happened to resonate with the Japanese mega fund’s CEO, Masayoshi Son. “It turns out he had the same vision before me,” Izhikevich said. “So when I met him, it was like meeting my biggest soul mate.”
Izhikevich thinks robots can be as big as the internet. “I would even compare the impact of robotics to the impact of the World Wide Web,” he said. “With the World Wide Web, you can touch any piece of information in the world — with robots, you can touch any physical object in the world.”
Izhikevich refers to a 2018 World Economic Forum study that estimated nearly twice as many jobs would be created because of automation as would be lost to it.
“Imagine how AI and robotics can change our lives for the better,” he said. “If we can touch any physical object in the world, we can create tools to help us to have more fulfilling lives.”
He added: “Think of automation and AI as giving tools to people who build houses. Think of automation and AI as augmenting people, not replacing them. Automation makes people’s jobs more efficient and more productive. I wouldn’t be running Brain Corp if I didn’t think automation was a force fo