Alongside this year’s Silicon Gorge: Autumn Edition we’re publishing profiles of a few of the companies that have made it through to the heats. This week it’s Bristol-based Bot-Hive.

Here to answer our questions is Bot-Hive Co-founder and CEO, Jaques Bonfrer.

What does your company do?

Bot-Hive helps first-time buyers choose the right automation solution for their organisation.

With over 200 listed suppliers and 85 integrator partners, Bot-Hive is the world’s fastest growing online robot matchmaker to help an organisation get started with automation.

What problem are you trying to solve?

A huge problem which has a continuing and dramatic impact upon UK industry, and indeed many countries globally. Unless the UK embraces robotics and automation, it will continue to lag behind as an industrial force. The UK is in a perfect storm of Brexit, low productivity, a shortage of low and highly skilled workers, and a global downturn caused by Covid-19. On the world stage, UK industry is seen as increasingly uncompetitive and falling behind. The answer is the increased use of robotics and automation, yet SMEs, and even some of the largest companies, do not understand how they can automate and what benefits it might bring. That’s the problem in a nutshell, how we educate and inform a whole sector of industry as to the benefits of using robots.

What makes your solution unique?

No platform has ever looked at this problem from the point of view of the ultimate end user, the SME. Nor has anyone looked at the problem as a whole and created a complete and digestible solution. Robot manufacturers try to sell robots to companies. Integrators try to sell solutions to companies. These are just two elements in a confused and complex sales process which actually often dissuades the SME from automating – in the end, it becomes just too expensive and complicated.

The opportunity to make the use-case for robots and automation is often lost. For the SME trying to automate, the use-case is unproven, product research is hard, pricing is obscure, installation is confused, operation is complicated, and training and after-care help are mixed.

To use a management-speak cliche, Bot-Hive gives the SME air cover, so that they have the intelligence and visibility to make an informed buying decision.

What are you most proud of so far?

When major global players in the robotics and automation industry turn around and say, yes, you’ve got something here.

A small group of us started this as an idea, not so much as a light bulb moment, but as a coming together of a technical platform and business model that could be used to unlock the potential of a major industry and help SMEs flourish.

In this way we are not true disruptors, we are happy to work alongside the robotics industry and help deliver them a solution for hard-pressed SMEs.

How much are you raising and what do you want to use investment for?

We’re looking to raise £200,000 for continued seed stage growth to take us through to a Series A round.

What tools/people/services/organisations helped you most?

Making the most impact on Bot-Hive has been companies such as Fanuc, Franka Emika, and Michael Parton (integrators); customers such as the University of Glasgow; and, of course, the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

Where can we find out more about you?