CEO, Clearpath Robotics Inc
Location: Kitchener, ON
Matt Rendall earned his technical chops as a member of the University of Waterloo’s inaugural graduating class in mechatronics engineering. (That’s “robot school” to the rest of us). By topping it off with a master’s degree in business, entrepreneurship and technology, he set himself up to take the automation world by storm. “There is emerging demand for robots,” he says. “And there are very few companies effectively servicing this demand.” Since founding Clearpath Robotics in 2009 with classmates Ryan Gariepy, Patrick Martinson and Bryan Webb, Rendall has stacked it with robotics expertise, luring the best and brightest with the prospect of working in a fun, challenging environment and an industry experiencing explosive growth. Today, the firm’s leadership team includes alum from Toyota, Kiva Systems, Procter & Gamble Manufacturing and Research In Motion, to name a few. This deep talent pool has helped make Clearpath Robotics a success, with high-profile organizations such as the Canadian Space Agency and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology using its unmanned vehicles for research and development.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Mentors are so important. We are where we are because our mentors helped us through our darkest times.
What is your best advice for young entrepreneurs?
Your one and only job as a tech startup founder is to find your product or market fit before running out of money. Everything else is noise.
What can governments, institutions and other businesses do to better support young entrepreneurs?
I want to see the government making grants available to riskier and earlier-stage businesses. When we were getting started, we were not eligible for most grants because we were either “too early” or “too risky”—and that was when we needed their help the most! I know of so many startups that could use these grants wisely to validate their product or market, bridge themselves to a private investment and really take their business to the next level. If there were more “risky dollars” from government for Canadian entrepreneurs, I think we’d see a huge ROI in the form of job creation and economic output.