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Prank-playing octopus, LEGO moon base seek to inspire tomorrow’s robotics engineers0
The co-founder of a Skolkovo resident startup has been included on Forbes’ list of 30 influential people under 30 for his company’s work creating what the magazine describes as “friendly, intuitive, promotional robots.”
Oleg Kivokurtsev pictured with one of his robots. Photo: Sk.ru
Oleg Kivokurtsev, co-founder of Promobot, is at 24 the second youngest person on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe Manufacturing & Industry 2016 list.
“This group of Europe’s young inventors, engineers and mad scientists will power the world economy for the next fifty years and beyond,” Forbes wrote.
Promobot, based in the Ural Mountains city of Perm, makes robots designed to offer consultations to customers, help with navigation and provide a range of other information for people in public places such as cinemas, shopping centres and hospitals. They can also be used to collect contextual information about customers and broadcast promotional materials.
“It may have been my name that was included, but this recognition is for all of us,” Kivokurtsev told Sk.ru.
“It was a long journey to being included in this list, it took a lot of work and is also thanks to Skolkovo,” he said, explaining that Skolkovo had sent the company to the Slush startup conference held in November in Helsinki, where its inclusion in the Slush 100 pitching competition had attracted the attention of Forbes journalists.
The leaders listed on the 30 Under 30 list were all vetted by a panel of experts in their fields, according to Forbes. One of the criteria for inclusion was the financial factor, said Kivokurtsev.
To date, Promobot has sold 94 robots to companies in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ireland, Kivokurtsev said. Nearly 60 more have been ordered, including five that will soon be making their way to Shanghai, China, where they will help customers in shopping malls and other public areas.
“We’re ready to enter the international market, and have adapted our robots to speak different languages,” he said.
Oleg Kivokurtsev at the Skolkovo stand at Slush in November. Photo: Sk.ru
“We are always pleased when our participant companies are recognised,” said Albert Yefimov, head of Skolkovo’s Robotics Centre. He identified three factors in the success of Promobot, which has been part of Skolkovo’s IT cluster for just under a year.
“As Forbes noted, Promobot’s robots are charming, but Oleg is also a fountain of energy and sincerity, and that’s important for a project’s communicators,” said Yefimov.
“Secondly, Oleg is a promising entrepreneur because he listens carefully and learns from his mistakes and that’s very important. In the several years I’ve known him, I’ve seen him grow because he listens to what Skolkovo tells him and that shows,” he said.
“Finally, he’s not timid. He easily assumes the role of a European entrepreneur, unlike many of our compatriots who are scared to even ask an investor for their business card,” he said.
Kivokurtsev was joined on the list by one other Russian, Dmitry Samoylovskikh, 28, from Telsa Awesome, a company that developed a glue-free version of a Post-it Note.
Earlier this month, the leader of another Skolkovo IT cluster resident – Ilya Sachkov of cyber-security company Group-IB – was included in Forbes’ list of 30 Under 30 in Enterprise Tech.