Daryl Lim met co-founders Yong Shin Leong and Chong Voon Foo at the Industry 4.0 networking event hosted by SG Innovate. Soon after, they decided to join a hackathon where they realised that they worked well as a team and had complementary skill sets.
Lim, Leong, and Foo soon after entered the realm of entrepreneurship by launching a robotics programming software startup that helps people develop deployable robotic systems.
Before this, Lim had founded his computing distribution startup which sold automation solutions to companies such as Seagate. This led him to understand the problems of automation which he describes as “really boils down to the deep difficulty of programming robotic systems.”
“Developed countries tend to offshore labour due to the low cost of labour. A lot of manufacturing jobs in Singapore have gone already. That being said there is a new revolution happening due to Industry 4.0. For example, in the US companies such as Tesla and Foxconn are hiring heavily because they are able to have operations in local environments through robotic systems,” Lim shares with us.
“I find it very interesting. I think that is really where I think nation-building has to go, to sustain jobs rather than just offshoring because it’s cheaper.”
How it works
Augmentus makes use of an iPad which has low computing power and a sensor camera to help individuals with no programming background develop robotic systems.
All they have to do is simply draw robot paths via a live video feed on their mobile or iPad device and observe how their robot moves without typing any code.
According to Lim, 70 per cent of the cost of owning a robot is in the software integration work. But Augmentus wants to eliminate the costs so that SMEs and farmers can harness the full benefits of robotic automation; at the moment only MNCs and people with deep pockets can profit from it.
Their product is set to be launched in December.
From offshoring to inshoring
Besides creating an easy-to-use robotic system, the young entrepreneurs also envision sustaining local talents in robotics manufacturing in the future –a move that was inspired by Tesla.
Singapore outsources most of its manufacturing jobs, and Lim believes in bringing many of the work back locally. Backing his argument, he gives the example of the US, which had previously depended on China for outsourcing. But now it has been making a local shift.
“As a country, I think we should be trying to sustain local talents in general,” he says.
Lim trusts that this will help create more jobs and help in building a more sustainable logistics supply chain.
Eyeing other markets
Augmentus is currently based at NUS Enterprise. In the future, the startup wants to focus on markets in South Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Australia.
Lim and Foo have mostly kept themselves free from academics and have taken a one-and-a-half year off from NUS, while Leong has been with the company full time.
Despite receiving scepticism from investors as a group of student entrepreneurs looking to raise funds, they are now obtaining growing interest from them.
“I am open to the idea of working on Augmentus full time if the need arises,” Lim quips.