Polsky Accelerator: Thoughts, Shots, and ‘Bots

I came to Booth with the express purpose of starting a company using the knowledge and experience from my MBA.  When I arrived in August of 2017, I had four potential business concepts in a variety of areas.  After some soul searching, I felt that my current startup, D20 Robotics, was the best fit for me. 
 
Our elevator pitch goes a little like this:

“At D20 Robotics, we make drinking even more fun.  Our first product, the Snapshot, uses facial detection to launch a gentle stream of a beverage across the room into the mouth of a user while taking shareable media for immediate posting.  That’s right, we can shoot booze across the room and hit you in the mouth.”
  
 
As I settled on the idea of creating the company, it was very clear that I needed to put to full use the resources available to me both at Booth and the Polsky Center.  D20 was accepted into the New Venture Challenge in 2018, kicking off our first real forays into the business world with what had previously been a fun side project. 
 
Though we didn’t make it to the New Venture Challenge Finals, we were accepted into the Polsky Accelerator, a 10-week intensive summer program designed to give Booth students additional resources like time, space and even some funding to develop their startups (check out my team in our very professional group shot below).
 
 
 
Over the summer, I met with coaches (much like NVC) and redesigned our business plan.  The Accelerator gave me an amazing cohort of other companies to look to for advice and commiseration.  We had weekly classes in excellent topics like Social Media and PR, Public Speaking, and Product Development.
 
I was also able to spend some of my time redesigning our rather unsightly NVC prototype into a sleek new unit, all contained within a single device.

The first stages of my redesign was using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to create a 3D model of the new version. 
 
You can see the original CAD models on my screen as well as the actual robot looking pretty similar (though I haven’t removed the protective covering nor installed the turret in this picture). With the CAD models in hand, I had to laser cut panels to assemble into the final housing.  I used acrylic and a laser cutter at mHub.
 
Next up was to add in the new electronics.  My teammates in San Francisco had written fancy new code to run on a Raspberry Pi, like facial detection capability.
 
Finally, only hours before the Polsky Accelerator Demo Day, I had to test our firing system.  Where’s the only reasonable place to test? My MPP bathroom.  At the last possible moment, the design had come together, and we had a fantastic pitch at Demo Day!
 

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