I know, robotics may refer to many things and it's extremely large field today. But if I can narrow the topic to something like Aldebaran(the company makes Nao robots), what knowledge should I have as a founder and manager of this company?

I really love to have a company like that, and know somethings from OpenCV to ARM-microcontrollers programming, and few experience in Solidworks and Altium designer!

But as you know this is a very big field and the more I read/learn, the more I'm disappointed! I think I can't to reach a point that I can say tomorrow I will create a team and start my first robot project, Cause I think there are many many things that I don't know and many skills that I don't have!

So it made me to ask this question here to know, what knowledge or skills really needed to establish some company like Aldebaran or similar companies?

NOTE: I don't talk about simple robot projects like line following robots, I am talking about Humanoid intelligent robots with Machine Vision, Listening/Speaking abilities and good mechanical ability(icub robot for another example)

Who with what knowledge can make such company and lead a great engineering team of computer/electronics/mechanics/others?

  • $\begingroup$ Don't forget that there are a lot of common misconceptions held by the public about what is possible/practical in AI and robotics. To be successful, you need to be able to understand the boundary of possible/practical in the field. $\endgroup$
    – koverman47
    Jul 23, 2018 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ I'm afraid that Life Questions are off-topic. Questions about choosing how to spend your time (which class to take, what career to pursue, etc.) may be about difficult decisions, & they are often important, but they are too specific to your own situation & are unlikely to help future visitors to the site. They would be better off asked in Robotics Chat, when you have chat privileges. We prefer practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face, see How to Ask & tour. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Jul 23, 2018 at 18:54

3 Answers 3


You need enough domain knowledge to be able to tell if someone is bullshitting you or not, to be able to determine when someone has an achievable or unachievable project idea, to be able to determine who has talent and who doesn't, etc.

And money. A lot of money. Quality engineers don't work for free.

  • $\begingroup$ How is it possible to determine do I have enough knowledge or not? Are there any rule of thumb/ $\endgroup$ May 25, 2018 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ I think nobody is expert in programming/electronics/mechanics all together! Even I don't think a programmer who works on Linux kernel or machine vision can work on chat bots along servers although both are in AI field. So how some one may manage this? $\endgroup$ May 25, 2018 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ @user145959 - This is how/why the majority of managers for engineering companies are, themselves, engineers. As I mentioned, if you are going to know whether or not someone is doing their job, you need to know what they're supposed to do. If you don't have any means to verify their work, then you're trusting them to not lie to you and you also don't have any means to evaluate the quality of their work. Engineering managers are typically people that have been engineers themselves for 10+ years. They understand the work, what needs to be done, and how to assess the results. $\endgroup$
    – Chuck
    May 29, 2018 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not an expert exactly, but I can 100% evaluate a mechanical layout, perform static/dynamic analysis, write control algorithms, simulate closed-loop performance, spec actuators, create schematics for the microcontroller and power electronics, create a board layout, solder/assemble, program the microcontroller, and then field test the unit. I also have a master's degree and 5+ years of work experience, with extensive undergraduate and graduate lab work. We do exist, but you are correct in that my electromechanical work doesn't translate to ability at AI or OS development... at all. $\endgroup$
    – Chuck
    May 29, 2018 at 12:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Anyways, as I stated in my original post, you don't need to be capable of doing every aspect of the project, but if you're going to manage a team of engineers, then you need to know enough to be able to delegate tasks and critique the work accordingly. If you're looking to start a company, it should be in a field with which you have at least a moderate amount of experience. If you don't know if you have enough knowledge then you probably don't. You can buy an engineer that does, and trust that they're not going to take your idea and split (see: Facebook), but you're liable to get burned. $\endgroup$
    – Chuck
    May 29, 2018 at 12:49

If having a company is more important to you than working in robotics for someone else, business skills and people skills are more important than technical skills.

Being successful requires experience, acquired over a lot of time with a lot of learning opportunities (failure). It also requires a good network of people you can draw on for knowledge, resources, and mentorship.

One leads with the passion and big idea that is so compelling that others will come with for you or invest in you. You don't lead and guide experts. You point then towards a problem and then listen to their advice. To check if their advice is good, you use multiple experts and compare their advice.

  • $\begingroup$ But the problem is that, how a man with few knowledge in programming/electronicss/mechanics can lead and guide experts of those fields? Or checking if they propose good or optimized solutions or do their task as well as possible or not? $\endgroup$ May 25, 2018 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ The same way as me, knowing programming, but not architecture can say, if i choose this or that company to build me a house - look for something vaquelly similar and find it costs (in money, time, space, machines etc), specifi your goals, ask more people/companies, on which terms they may provide your idea and then try that one, which sounds realistically and acceptable. That is, how you manage anything you do not know in details. Basically the same as if you are going to buy car, or clothes or food and you are not expert in creating such goods. $\endgroup$
    – gilhad
    May 26, 2018 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ Being good engineer is not the same as being good manager or vice versa. Those are totally different skill sets. A little knowledge, how the other generally works can help, but it is not so critical as one would think. $\endgroup$
    – gilhad
    May 26, 2018 at 12:08

To create a company of any kind you need both business skills and interpersonal skills. The main domain knowledge should come from your CTO (Chief Technical Officer) and your engineers.

Your main job will be to secure funding for the company.

If the company is small enough that you are the CTO also, then you need to be able to impress the engineers. You don't have to be better than they are, but you have to know robotics. If the company specializes in humanoid robotics, then you should have built a human robot that does some of what your company is planning to do.

I would even go so far as to say that if you haven't built a complicated autonomous robot then you don't have the passion to create a robotics company like you are describing. Even a hexapod with vision capabilities would be a good start. This would give you some of the background knowledge that you need to evaluate the engineers' recommendations.

It doesn't sound like you've built any kind of robot. Start small and eventually get to something more complex. You'll know when you're ready.


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