An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with A.K. Schultz (co-founder and CEO) of SVT Robotics, which was honored in our:
- 2023 Best Tech Startups in Norfolk
- 2022 Best Tech Startups in Norfolk
- 2021 Best Tech Startups in Norfolk
Tell us the origin story of SVT Robotics – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Most of my career has been around the design and implementation of automation projects across multiple industries, so I’ve had a front row seat to seeing the challenges that automation interoperability presents and what customers go through with long implementation timelines that often result in large, brittle systems that are very difficult to update in today’s rapidly changing industry.
SVT Robotics was launched to create software products that solve that interoperability problem and make the deployment of robots and automation incredibly fast and easy, even across different technologies from disparate manufacturers.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
When you have at your core a fundamental belief, this problem you want to solve, you have to make that your “why.” The why is the thing that gets you through the tough times, because anything worth doing is going to be tough, especially if you’re creating something that is defensible, enduring, and solving a very large problem.
What does the future hold for SVT Robotics?
Our vision is to reduce the friction that slows the adoption of innovative technologies and make automation, even from disparate companies, easily accessible to everyone. There are so many amazing ideas that have an impediment to implementation – if we can reduce that friction and accelerate automation adoption, businesses can be more agile, and more will survive and thrive within the current environment and supply chain challenges.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Norfolk?
Groups like 757 Accelerate and 757 Collab, along with local universities, just to name a few, are really working to boost the startup ecosystem in the area. They’ve accomplished a lot in pulling together local, creative, and innovative thinkers who can foster growth in the tech industry and beyond. It’s an honor to be in the Norfolk community and do our part to help this area become the business and creative hub of the region, which creates strong tailwinds for other companies like SVT.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
First, you cannot possibly practice and revise your pitch too much. We went through easily over a hundred iterations of our first pitch deck before we arrived at a version where the story was really being told in a way that resonated with people. Second, success isn’t just about product market fit, which we hear about a lot. It’s about problem market fit. Are you solving a problem that the market really needs solved? Starting there is a crucial first step before you ever get to finding the perfect product to alleviate that problem.