Micah Green ’18, who attended Cornell for one year before dropping out and forming his company Maidbot, gave student entrepreneurs advice in a talk Monday evening sponsored by Life Changing Labs at eHub in Collegetown.
Green began his talk by mentioning how he had always been interested in business, explaining that his entrepreneurship journey began at the age of only seven when he built “little companies” and sold things he found from his basement to his neighbors.
“My friend and I used our cuteness to our advantage to sell those things,” Green joked.
A few years later, Green decided to study entrepreneurship in the School of Hotel Administration. In the program, Green was required to enroll in a hotel operations class, where hotel students help run the Statler Hotel doing jobs like waitressing, working the front desk and, most notably for Green, housekeeping.
“Whenever someone had the housekeeping position it was always, ‘Let’s get this done as quickly as possible,’” Green said. “But within an hour I was so intrigued and this super boring-sounding position was exciting to me. I started thinking about how we could innovate housekeeping and commercial cleaning.”
From there, the idea for Maidbot was born. Green began to think of how to change something “that has stayed the same for hundreds of years” and saw an untapped potential robots could have in filling a job that he said was “dull, dirty and dangerous.”
“We started thinking, ‘What are some forever problems that will be around and are very frequent?’” Green said. “The floor cleaning aspect, you know, I’m not necessarily excited about vacuums, but the fact that it is something so core to operations means it’s going to be there forever.”
Maidbot then had its “first day” at Cornell’s 2015 Career Fair to “recruit talent with nothing but a logo, banner, and idea,” according to Maidbot’s website. Three years later, Maidbot, which now has 21 team members, is working on a Jetsons-inspired robot named “Rosie,” who will not only clean floors, but also collect data to “improve guest experiences,” according to the Maidbot website. In addition, Green reported that the company is working with some of the “largest hospitality companies in the world.”
“It’s really exciting to be going from a prototype and a proof of concept to a company and product and sales,” Green said. “It’s all happening at once so it’s a lot, but this is just the starting point.”
Along with sharing his journey, Green pointed out what he thought helped him along the way. One piece of advice he offered was the importance of keeping an open mind.
“I think life is all about perspective,” Green stated. “Everyone in this room has a different perspective — what’s interesting is that while we’re all at Cornell, we all came from all these different backgrounds. We’re really quick to judge, but it’s always good to talk to anyone — your Uber driver might give you the best advice of the year.”
Green focused on the emotional aspect of business as well and mentioned the importance of having good mentors and a positive working environment. But further, he noted the necessity of taking time to clear your mind.
“As stressful as everything will get, take a step back — that investment will help you move much more forward,” Green stated.
“We may build robots, but we’re not robots,” Green said.