A Next Step for Robots


Although robots have been available to enterprises for some time now, they’ve mostly been used for highly repetitive tasks that are performed at an industrial scale. However, how to bring robots into new environments where they can be flexible and adapt to more dynamic tasks, working alongside people at small and medium-sized businesses, is still an unanswered question.

For instance, if you are an SMB that uses a dozen 3D printers to produce cell phone cases, you’d have to staff those 12 machines, pressing buttons, removing the printed items and so forth, to keep production in motion.

Our newest portfolio company, Tend.ai, helps to solve this problem by combining its cloud software with off-the-shelf webcams to teach robot arms new tasks, such as managing a small army of 3D printers, in a fast and cost-effective way.

Once programmed, Tend.ai-powered robots will reach for machine displays and press buttons just like a human. Any robot, webcam and gripper can be used with Tend.ai’s software to turn a manual system into one that’s run from the cloud.  

I’m excited about this opportunity because the Tend.ai team is bringing robots to a larger audience via computer vision and cloud software integration—a compelling, low-friction strategy for going after a very large market.

Co-founders Mark Silliman, Robert Kieffer and James Gentes are the kind of team we at True like to back. They are seasoned founders with lots of domain knowledge and proven success in building scalable software companies. A special thanks to my friend Nick Mehta, James’ former colleague from Veritas, who first introduced us to Tend.ai.

Tend.ai Co-founding Team

It’s my pleasure to congratulate Mark, Robert and James on their funding, which we proudly led. We can’t wait to see you bring your technology to lots of new businesses that will benefit greatly from it.