Youibot: Mobile Robot War Undecided, Confidence and Ambition of New Entrepreneurs

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The article comes from Inno Angel, by Lady Wu

Looking back on the two years of starting a business, the most exciting moment for several teenagers of Youibot was the first time that the product was unveiled at an international exhibition. In early January 2018, several start-up members of Youibot took their products called "the world's first commercial car inspection robot" to the CES exhibition. The product has attracted much attention from the industry due to its dual innovation in technology and function. At the same time, Youibot won the "Las Vegas CES2018 Year Global Focus 50 Company."

Youibot is deeply rooted in the intelligent manufacturing and intelligent operation and maintenance two major industries, although the establishment time is not long, Youibot has created a number of industry innovations:
The first commercial vehicle dust removal robot for new energy buses, the first commercial vehicle inspection robot, the first customs hazardous chemicals inspection industry robot in the country, and the first mobile inspection robot entering the power plant power generation end. During 2014-to 2019, the domestic and foreign mobile robot market returned to calm from hot. The 
China Robot Industry Development Research Institute, there are more than 6500 robot-related enterprises in China, and there are more than 60 robot industrial parks in China. Explosive entrepreneurship has intensified competition among high-tech logo robot enterprises. After the market outlet, the growth rate of the number of robot enterprises registered began in 2017, a sharp decrease of 15 percentage points compared with 2016. In the industry's view, the market demand side is still in the stage of introducing education, opportunities and risks coexist. Based on confidence in the industry, Youibot United"the technical team of Xi'an Jiaotong University Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems "and" Shaanxi Key Laboratory Scientific Research "to transform the market demand and introduces robots into various industries and clients making robots a service. Talking about the inevitable competition with large enterprises, the founder of Youibot  Zhang Chaohui used the analogy of an "innovator's dilemma". He said that for the same market problem, large enterprises have a series of decision-feedback-operation processes.This time period just gives the start-up enterprise living space.
Large enterprises have huge capital, rich team experience and strong market advantages, by contrast, start-up enterprises can only break through the cocoon if they are more innovative and more efficient in the enterprise genes and quickly solve the pain points of customers.

Reflections on the twists and turns

Q: What is the origin of the founding of Youibot?

Zhang Chaohui:In 2014, I continued to study for a PhD at my alma mater. In the research institute for three years, we have been doing research on robot control and navigation, and have undertaken a number of national projects and scientific research projects. In 2015, when I was optimistic about the commercial prospects of mobile robots, several brothers and teachers Mei Xuesong discussed how to transform the past basic research into scientific research results. After 2 years of preparation, in 2017, the whole industry situation reached the right time point. My brother and I, together with teacher Mei Xuesong, came out to start a business, making adjustments while making adjustments.

Youibot came to Shenzhen at the beginning.

They seems to have become handsome after starting a business.

Q: What are the profound nodes that have been experienced since its establishment?

Zhang Chaohui: The first profound node, product commercialization encountered a big trouble. The prototype and products have come out at the beginning, but how to do real commercial services, to put it bluntly, is how to sell the products. The commercialization of products has encountered bottlenecks. At first, we directly pushed the entire robot product to the end customers. The customers thought the product was too expensive and the orders were few. During that time, the team was particularly depressed and suddenly lost its way. They felt that it would be difficult for the enterprise to survive. Several members of the team racked their brains to think about whether there is a better way to promote the product quickly. Later, we found a breakthrough method, decomposed the robot module, cooperated with integrators and upstream and downstream manufacturers to package an overall solution, and made a mobile robot platform product extrapolation. The market immediately gave positive feedback and made more than 500 million sales in less than half a year. We saw the opportunity.  We began to enter more industries through direct selling and integrators, two-way drive, and quickly open the market. 

The second profound node, learn from the bitter experience, Open up Ideas and Take the Road of Commercialization.

In 2018, Youibot built the country's first customs inspection industry robot for hazardous chemicals inspection in response to the needs of the customs industry, and jointly released it. At that time, it was thought that this product could be well and quickly promoted in the entire customs system. However, the difficulty encountered in marketing is greater than expected., it is difficult for us to exert force on the market side in a single channel on the G side, and the pace of sales is interrupted. After that, we learned from the bitter experience and realized that the business risk of single customer demand and channel close to the G-side is very high, the product must open up the idea to take the road of commercialization. Youibot can cover the needs of the same type of customers, standardized, modular products have the ability to reduce costs and increase efficiency, thus entering the market valley. Although there were some twists and turns in 2018, the overall development speed was still very fast. In 2019, almost all our standardized products were produced and delivered in small batches. The money in the second half of the year is worth looking forward to.

Q: What are the major product lines?

Zhang Chaohui: Currently, there are two major product lines: intelligent manufacturing and intelligent operation and maintenance.

1. Intelligent manufacturing product

line: customers are China's largest internal combustion engine manufacturer. One internal combustion engine manufacturing module is offline every two minutes. In the past, workers pulled a trolley from point A to point B in the middle of the operation, pulling one in two minutes, requiring two or three workers a day. Later, we used three robots to realize flexible production line docking under a dynamic working environment, and basically, one robot replaced one artificial person. For the factory, one can increase efficiency, the other can reduce costs, and the cost can be recovered in a year and a half. In the new retail field, Youibot has created a physical connection in intelligent manufacturing. A single turnover box comes out of the three-dimensional warehouse to the decomposition of the production line, and six robots are used to continuously perform turnover operations. The whole system realizes the whole process of unmanned, opens up the rapid circulation of factories and new retail systems, and improves production efficiency and the level of factory informatization and intelligence.

 

2. Intelligent O & M product line:70% of China's electricity comes from thermal power generation. The entire thermal power plant, including pipe corridors, generators, towers, etc., has many problems that need to be investigated. In the past, workers used to check. Sometimes the temperature inside was very high and the noise was very loud. The workers were very painful when checking, that is to say, it is not a matter of changing workers, it is that workers have no way to work in it., even if you go, you may leak and leak without careful inspection. Youibot provides a core basic platform for inspection and maintenance. Robots are used for a maintenance inspection and online 7X24 hours to avoid missed inspection problems and realize traceability. In the past, workers left after reading. Now robots can record the data of the single ticket version, take photos and keep traceability.
|thermal power plant meter inspection, look at me

Youibot, through the way of mobile robots, transforms some previous inherent operation methods, replaces people working on the site, and reduces the safety loss of life and property on the site. This is some of the logic of Youibot 's product promotion.

02 Hard Core Technology Encounteres Flexible Innovation: The rapid growth in recent years, in summary, what do you think is the reason for your success?

Zhang Chaohui: It's not a success yet, but there may be two experiences, core technology accumulation and a flexible business model.First, core technology accumulation, self-developed mobile robot positioning, and multi-machine system. Youibot's positioning system is laser-guided and does not require external navigation. It can realize millimeter-level positioning in more complex environments, covering indoors and outdoor. At the same time, we also have a mobile robot multi-machine management and scheduling system, led by the first generation of architects of the Chinese Internet, which can run more than 100 robots for collaborative mobilization, and the deployment is very simple.|a somewhat powerful multi-machine scheduling system |
It was very difficult for the robot industry to land because customers had real needs, but it was difficult to implement them quickly.
Youibot has truly achieved rapid empowerment of the entire industry. We have built a platform-level mobile robot operating system for industry promotion. At the same time, it is suitable for the most mainstream integrators in the industry such as Omron and Fast, which can be easily used by customers and realize flexible deployment. Second, the business model is very flexible. Different business models are used in different scenarios. The first is direct promotion, and the second is to integrate output platforms and solutions to advance quickly and improve competitive flexibility. Facing different channels, we use different commercial means to promote products, cooperate with professional industry integrators in the field of intelligent manufacturing, and integrators take the lead for us. In the field of inspection, we will face the end-users directly and dig deep into the needs of users to carry out product landing.

After watching some videos of you in the circle of friends, I feel that the team of Youibot is different from the "serious technical school". It is very energetic and innovative. I am very curious about you. What is the current situation of the team? 

Zhang Chaohui: Haha, we are a group of people who are happy while working. Youibot has more than 30 personnel and more than 20 R&D personnel. The chief scientist, Mr. Mei Xuesong, is a distinguished professor of Changjiang Scholars and an advanced manufacturing expert in the National 13th Five-Year Plan. In the past two years, we have attracted many outstanding talents from many industries, such as employees from famous enterprises such as Michelin Group, Bertelsmann Group, DJI Innovation, Yuejiang Technology, BYD, Yifeng Robot, Shuo Technology, etc. We can say that our team has gathered excellent resources and strength in the industry.

 

: How will the commercial boundary be expanded in the future?

 

Zhang Chaohui: After two years of hard work, Youai Zhihe has served more than 20 large enterprises, obtained more than 30 national honors, and more than 40 national patents. This achievement can still be mentioned.our idea is to polish our own universal robot system, interface with the old business system, and quickly land to different scenarios. in the future, the same technical solution can be extended to intelligent hospitals, intelligent cities and other fields.
|hello everyone, we are Youai Zhihe product family |
03 Cost reduction and efficiency increase become the driving force of the industry.

: in fact, I was surprised that you said that you would build "the first brand of mobile robots in the world" because, in the public's impression, these hard technology industries have comparative advantages in foreign countries. Can you share the current market situation of mobile robots at home and abroad?

Zhang Chaohui: As mentioned earlier, we have cooperation and exchanges with many industry partners at home and abroad. We can clearly know the strength of both sides. We have enough confidence and ambition in our own field. Foreign countries have a good industrial foundation, and deep technology accumulation, while the domestic market volume, and multi-scene attempts have differentiated advantages. Due to the complexity of domestic application scenarios and large demand, domestic enterprises are constantly facing challenges, and at the same time, they are constantly iterating and developing rapidly. The application scenario-driven technological innovation has become an advantage for domestic enterprises in competing and communicating with international enterprises, and we also realize that regardless of domestic and foreign enterprises,can only win the respect of the market if we settle down to make applications that can really fall into the market.

: What are the current bottlenecks in the industry and where are the opportunities at the same track?

Zhang Chaohui:market is talking about industrial 4.0 and Chinese manufacturing 2025 every day. In fact, the vast majority of China's industrial situation is still in a relatively early stage. The market has just started and all peers are needed to educate the market. The opportunity lies in the rapid transformation of the automation of the whole industry, and there is still a great market prospect for machines to replace people.

: Why is the acceptance level of customers in some industries higher?

Zhang Chaohui: Mobile robots are an area with a strong long-tail effect, which means that several large enterprises will occupy the mainstream market demand, such as small factories will not use mobile robots to achieve promotion, which is a typical job benefit market. And some industries have reached a situation where they have to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Cost-reducing efficiency has become the driving force of the industry. Youibot kept thinking about which links in the industry have real needs and which can change the old operation mode through mobile robots. We polished our own general robot operating system to connect the new system with the old business system and quickly push it to the ground. In addition to intelligent manufacturing, intelligent operation and maintenance is also our focus. In recent years, many safety problems have broken out, including great economic losses caused by storage fires and damage to the electric field system of the power grid. After the rapid growth in the past ten years, the problems of machine operation and maintenance have gradually been exposed and need to be solved.

: What is the company's next development plan?

Zhang Chaohui: We will continue to dig deep into the two industries for a period of time in the future. Now the market volume of the two industries selected is very large, each of which is a 100 billion level market. After the products and services are penetrated into the manufacturing and operation and maintenance industries, and after occupying a certain market share, they will set foot in more scenes.

: At present, mainstream players and cutting-edge enterprises have different entry points. What is your strategy in the choice of industry?

Zhang Chaohui: We must think clearly about what customers care about. First, can you transform customer needs through technology, and whether after-sales service can keep up with it; second, whether your technology is up to standard and whether your products are qualified. In the choice of industry, we value the real demand of the sub-industry, which may not be noticed by our peers. The demand is large enough and can be replicated so that Youai Zhihe can account for a large share, such as in the public transportation industry and the thermal power plant industry.

04always keep fighting spirit

: How does Zhang always understand entrepreneurship?

Zhang Chaohui: This sentence is from the heart. My dream since I was a child is to become a scientist. However, after starting a business, you will find that doing scientific research in school is relatively far from the actual needs of customers. The deepest experience of starting a business is that every product launched can really solve practical problems for customers, returning to the market is that only by bringing value can the company develop, which makes us very excited and always keeps the fighting spirit.  In the eyes of the partner of Inno Angel Fund, Dr. Zhang Chaohui, the founder, has a strong appeal, has the potential of an excellent entrepreneur, and can continuously attract better operating and sales talents to join the company.

|Inno Angel Fund Partner Comprehensive |
: What has touched you more in the past 2 years of working with the team?

Zhang Chaohui: In fact, there are quite a lot of them. We have three keywords: innovation, efficiency, and honesty. Before, a colleague said that he wanted to do some special things since he was a child. Although he did not initiate it himself, he was able to join such a team, which made him very motivated and accomplished. There are also several holidays. When I come to the company to pick up things, I will find that I did not say that everyone would come to work overtime. Several engineers came to the company to solve the problem of algorithm loopholes before. When asked, they would say that they were fine at home and come to solve the problem.
The team recognizes what the company has done from the heart, and has a sense of responsibility and trust. Things and processes that are not related to efficiency internally, we will abandon. Everything is for higher efficiency, and the team's execution is very strong. Thank you to everyone on the team.

The reporter's notes' interview with Youibot originated from the video of their bus dust removal on the Internet. At that time, I felt that this product was very practical and the small probe was as sensitive as a human being.

 

The 2-hour interview, in an industry that has long been entrenched by foreign players, when young entrepreneur Zhang Chaohui said "to build the world's first brand of mobile robots", the reporter was actually quite surprised.

 

But with the in-depth understanding of the strength and technical strength of the Youibot team, I began to realize that with the acceleration of global competition, since the final war is inevitable, also there are always deviators trying to break the old rules and establish new norms, this is the confidence and ambition that cutting-edge entrepreneurs should have, isn't it?

 

 

Inno Angel Fund

 

Inno Angel Fund was established in April 2013. The investment management team has an average of 10 years of experience and manages more than 2 billion RMB. With the mission of "investment and innovation, adults reach their own", Inno Angels focus on angel wheel and Pre-A investment in the fields of artificial intelligence/robots, large consumption/new cultural creation, new-generation information technology, and large health. After its establishment, it has continuously won the "Top Ten Chinese Angel Investment Institutions" and other awards.

 

Inno Angel has established a cross-regional investment and entrepreneurship service platform, with teams in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao Bay Area (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Zhongshan), Xiamen, Silicon Valley, and other places. Inno innovation space has become a place where outstanding young people gather. Inno Angels have invested in 400 start-up projects, including imaginary technology, Zhendi technology, lemon micro interest, smart walker, Wen Yuan Zhixing, the future black technology, Aqiu technology, change, micro world, Le Chun, etc.

 

 

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