Spotlight Series: Linda Pouliot, CEO at Dishcraft Robotics, on What She’s Learned as a Serial Entrepreneur

Linda Pouliot is the founder and CEO of Dishcraft Robotics, an early stage venture backed startup developing robots for commercial kitchens. Previously, she co-founded Neato Robotics and was VP Product Management and Operations. At Neato, Linda led the design and development of the XV-11, Neato’s award-winning autonomous vacuum cleaner. She was a panelist at our AI in the Connected World event on June 30, and was gracious enough to share additional thoughts on the future of AI and the lessons she’s learned as a serial entrepreneur.

How has AI’s development in the past few years accelerated and expanded opportunities in the robotics market?

Robotics has remained within the world of industrial automation, and the thing that has kept it from expanding beyond that has been the lack of ability to deal with chaos and unstructured environments. AI can make a real difference there.

What are the most common misconceptions that the public has about robotics? How do you see robotics integrating into society and becoming less science fiction and more mainstream?

Hollywood has done us no favors about the actual perception of robots. We are very far from being able to seamlessly assimilate robots in the real world and get out of the labs. It will begin with robots who can do very simple things. For example, it will start out as an Amazon Echo and place an order. Then it will do a delivery of your groceries. Eventually it will progress to more and more complicated tasks. Everything will be very application specific, and it will be a long time before there is a general purpose application working in an unstructured environment.

What advice do you share with other entrepreneurs in the robotics space who are hoping to leverage AI or other new technologies? What are some of the best practices or key lessons that you’ve learned?

Love your customer more than you love your tech. Spend time choosing an application. Find a problem and make a product, not a technology.

As an entrepreneur and advisor with over 15 years of experience, what are the biggest changes you’ve observed starting and growing a successful business, and what advancements would you like to see happen in the future that address existing challenges?

The basics for me have not changed from when I first became an entrepreneur to now. It is important to solve a real problem and respect your team, customers, and investors. These are the foundations of creating a successful business. This isn’t an advancement, but rather common sense. I would like to see more companies embrace respect and transparency across the board.

Read our other Spotlight Series Q&As from the AI in the Connected Future event:

Q&A with Ann Crady Weiss

Q&A with Renata Quintini

Q&A with Shireen Yates

The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the interview subject and do not necessarily reflect the views of Qualcomm Ventures.