A twenty-year-old Austin resident named Micah Green, who has started a housecleaning robotics company called Maidbot, has won a coveted $100,000 Thiel Fellowship.
The popular fellowship helps young entrepreneurs pursue their passion instead of going to college. To apply, you have to be age 22 or younger.
Green was one of 25 people to win the fellowship this year, and says he had applied twice before. “The third time is the charm,” he said.
The former Cornell University student dropped out of college to focus on building Maidbot, which has developed a robot that performs hotel housecleaning chores.
Green said he applied for the two-year fellowship because it’s “an incredible opportunity.” He said getting to know the other fellows, and the mentors and investors affiliated with the program makes it worthwhile.
“They help guide you,” he added.
The fellowship won’t require him to move his company from Austin.
The Thiel fellowship was launched in 2011 and is run by The Thiel Foundation, which is funded by billionaire Peter Thiel.
Thiel made his billions by co-founding PayPal in 1999. He went on to found a hedge fund, a software company and a venture capital firm. Thiel was also an early investor in social networking company Facebook. Thiel is also known for being a Libertarian who supports President Trump.
“This year’s fellows were selected from thousands of applications that we received from around the world,” said Jack Abraham, the executive director of the Thiel Fellowship, in a written statement. “These young founders demonstrate incredible drive and courage to tackle these problems that often haven’t even been addressed before, let alone solved.”
The application process can be arduous, with multiple rounds of interviews, a pitch session and an in-person meeting with the foundation.
Green said he got the idea for Maidbot when he worked as a housekeeper.
He was enrolled in their hospitality program at Cornell University and was required to do a lot of hotel-related tasks, including housekeeping.
“When I was working as a housekeeper, I was really intrigued,” Green said, because the basic housecleaning tasks hadn’t changed much in decades. “It’s so stagnant, nothing has changed at all.”
Green soon became obsessed with the idea of building a robot that would perform these chores for hotels. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” he said.
He initially started the company while still living in Ithaca, N.Y., but moved it to Austin because it was easier to recruit employees here, he said.
Green is originally from Washington, D.C.
Maidbot has raised money, Green said, but he wouldn’t disclose the size of the investment or the investors, saying it was “in the seven figures.”
The company has developed a prototype called “Rosie,” and is testing it with several hotel chains, including the Westin in Austin, Green said. Initially the robot will just focus on cleaning floors and will be a mobile data platform that can control things like room temperature.
Eventually, Green said, Rosie will be upgraded to making beds and folding laundry, he said, to “really take the load off.”
News on Open Source is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of 512tech.com comes with an American-Statesman digital subscription, which also includes myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe at statesman.com/subscribe.