‘Create an offering that people can believe in’: Founders Thoughts, Agnes Petit

MOBBOT is a Swiss-based additive manufacturing company specialising in the automation of sprayed concrete. Their patented 3D printing robots and software solutions help Construction companies to streamline their workflow, improve efficiency, and reduce their carbon footprint. Founded in 2018, MOBBOT has quickly developed into one of the most promising and exciting ConTech businesses in Europe. As they approach their Series A, Henna, Head of Beaumont Bailey’s Advisory Network, sat down with Founder & CEO Agnes Petit to discuss MOBBOT’s journey so far.

MOBBOT Founder & CEO, Agnes Petit. Copyright: Stemutz

 

What were the initial challenges you faced when starting MOBBOT?

In the beginning, my knowledge of the start-up space was minimal. I spent the first six months learning the trade, taking advice from young start-up founders, attending conferences, and engraining myself in the sector. I was like a sponge, just taking on board all the advice I could! I had the jump from working in a large company in Building Materials to operating a start-up. The real challenge was creating everything from scratch – the technology, the business, and the team. Funding is a big challenge to all companies when starting. In 2017 I really started to put together the initial plans for MOBBOT and realised that we would need roughly 2.5m francs to reach a minimum viable product. Sourcing early-stage funding is a real obstacle, but thankfully we could utilise accelerator angel programs that back start-ups.

As the team begins to grow, how are you finding the transition from Founder to CEO?

I’ve had extensive experience managing large teams throughout my career, so I haven’t found that aspect very challenging, in all honesty. Founders are often young within the start-up space and haven’t had that leadership experience, so I’ve been quite lucky in that respect. We’ve also actively worked to develop a diverse board and leadership team as we progress towards our Series A. Growing and onboarding our leadership team will really help with our growth. The biggest challenge for us has been sourcing the right talent with a suitable skillset and vision. The talent pool within Construction Tech can be pretty small and isn’t very diverse, which can be hugely limiting for your growth plans. We’re finding that young people aren’t as interested in joining the construction sector (yet!), so the most significant challenge as CEO is to create an attractive offering that people can buy into and believe in. That should be an active task for all CEOs within Construction to help ensure we’re attracting the best junior talent.

What do you see as the main challenges for MOBBOT in the Construction sector?

The construction industry can be hesitant to make mistakes or fail, so change and innovation can be slow due to reluctance to trial new tech. I still often hear companies say, “we tried to incorporate tech 20 years ago, and it failed”. Tech has come a long way since then, and we have a task on our hands to convince companies of the value of digital solutions; this will be a crucial challenge to MOBBOT’s success and growth and the success of many other ConTech businesses. I am staying quite positive, though, as businesses are looking at their environmental and sustainability policies more and more. The climate crisis has put pressure on companies to explore innovative, long-term solutions to reduce their carbon footprint and improve efficiency, and that’s where our expertise comes into play.

What do you think you’ll encounter as you head towards your Series A?

The need to grow at scale and become commercially viable will be a crucial focus for us. MOBBOT was founded in 2018 and has seen promising growth since then; how we maintain that growth and scale effectively will be our next task. Equally, how we build out our management team will be a challenge for us. As we scale, it will be vital to have the right leadership team behind us. You need to ensure that your mission statement and original values follow you through that period of fast growth, which can be achieved through investing in a management team that aligns with your vision and goals.

If you could go back, would you do anything differently?

When you are an early-stage start-up business, you’ve got loads of people who are willing to help and provide advice. It’s therefore essential to get the right people when you are first starting, and I think it’s necessary to make sure you are investing the time into selecting the right board members for your company. What I found most precious were the advice and questions that other experienced founders asked me. Today we have two successful start-up founders on our board, and it’s so unique and game-changing to me. While investors equally bring a lot of support, so do the advisors you pick.
Find out more about Henna’s work with start-ups here

 

Find out more about Henna’s work with start-ups here