BotFactory: Revolutionizing Circuit Board Creation, Races to Kickstarter Finale

On July 11, 2014, the BotFactory, a startup devoted to revolutionizing the way electrical engineers create circuit boards, began a Kickstarter campaign, and within a month they had attracted some 150 backers, who had pledged more than $60,000 to fund the manufacture of Squink—a personal electronic circuit factory that can produce a prototype board in about 30 minutes for under $5, a stark contrast to the 10 days and $250 of conventional methods. Squink can be used by experienced designers to accelerate their development cycle and also empowers communities with limited access to fabrication services. (Because components are glued, rather than soldered, even children can produce a working prototype.)

Nicolas Vansnick, co-founder and CEO, and Carlos Ospina, co-founder and CTO, had hoped to receive $100,000 in pledges before the campaign ended on August 20. Hours before that deadline, they learned that they had attracted just over that amount—$100, 380—with the help of 260 backers in total. While a handful had pledged $9,999 or more, the vast majority had promised $50 or less, probable evidence that the project enjoyed widespread support among students and amateur inventors—the very audience of consumers that Vansnick and Ospina are addressing with Squink.

Graduates of the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, the pair met their third co-founder, Professor Mike Knox, back when they were students. Knox—part of a program called Faculty Engineers in Residence, which connects budding entrepreneurs to teachers with business experience—had mentored the two when they entered the initial version of Squink in the school’s Inno/Vention contest, where it placed in the hardware category, and decided to join them in their enterprise. The company’s connections to NYU run even deeper, however: it is housed at the DUMBO incubator, one of three such facilities maintained by the School of Engineering.

“We see ourselves as members of the Agile Electronics Development wave,” they say. “As such we walk uncharted routes, creating new horizons for this newborn concept. In the upcoming years we'll continue evolving our products to provide the best experience on the market for this kind of technology.”