Innovators: Sarjoun Skaff, Co-Founder of Bossa Nova Robotics

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Innovators. They come in many forms. They dream big but they aren’t just dreamers. They form raw ideas into cool products with disruptive business models. They shatter entire industries and leave established leviathans running scared with their tails between their legs. The Innovators interview series connects you with the most driven people on the planet. What makes them tick? What advice do they have for tech founders? What tools do they use to get the job done? Read on to find out.

Sarjoun Skaff is a robotics entrepreneur with a life calling of putting robots in people’s lives. He co-founded Bossa Nova Robotics in 2005 to take robots out of the lab and turn them into personal robots for consumers.

He led the development of Bossa Nova’s first three products, including technology development, manufacturing, quality assurance, sales and customer service. He is responsible for Bossa Nova’s technology leadership and product development. He has over 15 years of hands-on experience in robotics, including two years spent at the factory in China building products on small budget, high quality, and at scale.

He has a BE in Mechanical Engineering from the American University of Beirut, and an MS and PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. He is fluent in three languages, holds four patents, and has received numerous awards including the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Western Pennsylvania (2011), the FEA Distinguished Young Alumni (2011) and the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Top 50 in Tech (2009)

What do you enjoy most about your work and why?

I love constructing products and product features. It’s a creative exercise, often performed in a brainstorming setting, where we dream of uses for technology and how it can meet our needs. It’s a process that gives technology a purpose.

Where does your passion come from? What drives you, inspires you, excites you?

I have been dreaming of robots since childhood, and that’s why I came to Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute. I feel a life calling for putting robots into people’s lives, and that’s what drives me every day at Bossa Nova Robotics. I get really excited every time we put a robot on the market, as it means sharing it with thousands around the world.

Someone reading this wants to start a tech company. What’s your best advice for them?

Dream big and don’t be afraid. The journey itself is an incredible thrill and ...

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