Executive Briefings

Meet the Young Robotics Entrepreneur Who Got a Dream Deal With Apple

Behind the bar of San Francisco's Four Seasons Hotel last March, a set of doors led into an empty cafe room where an unknown, 25-year-old British-Nigerian entrepreneur named Silas Adekunle was about to meet a senior executive at Apple.

If he was nervous, Adekunle didn’t show it.

He smiled and opened up a large suitcase. It was filled with colorful robots that looked at first like toys. When he took one out and set it on the floor, it came alive.

Called a Mekamon, it raced, spider-like across a mat on four pointed legs, trotting daintily before bowing, and performing a dramatic death shudder. Adekunle took out his phone and pointed it at the Mekamon, and now on his screen it was surrounded by glowing lights, facing an animated opponent that it could shoot lasers at.

Apple’s head of developer relations, Ron Okamoto, carefully surveyed the other robots, then peppered Adekunle with questions about motors and articulations. “It’s got character,” he noted.

Their expected 15-minute chat went on for more than an hour. At the end, Okamoto said the words every young entrepreneur with a team of just nine staff dreams of hearing: “You need to come spend some time with us in Cupertino.”

A year on and Adekunle, who at 26 is part of Forbes’ latest 30 Under 30 list for European Technology, is on course to sell plenty of Mekamon robots thanks to an exclusive distribution deal he signed in November 2017 after “spending some time in Cupertino” and meeting Apple's retail executives.

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If he was nervous, Adekunle didn’t show it.

He smiled and opened up a large suitcase. It was filled with colorful robots that looked at first like toys. When he took one out and set it on the floor, it came alive.

Called a Mekamon, it raced, spider-like across a mat on four pointed legs, trotting daintily before bowing, and performing a dramatic death shudder. Adekunle took out his phone and pointed it at the Mekamon, and now on his screen it was surrounded by glowing lights, facing an animated opponent that it could shoot lasers at.

Apple’s head of developer relations, Ron Okamoto, carefully surveyed the other robots, then peppered Adekunle with questions about motors and articulations. “It’s got character,” he noted.

Their expected 15-minute chat went on for more than an hour. At the end, Okamoto said the words every young entrepreneur with a team of just nine staff dreams of hearing: “You need to come spend some time with us in Cupertino.”

A year on and Adekunle, who at 26 is part of Forbes’ latest 30 Under 30 list for European Technology, is on course to sell plenty of Mekamon robots thanks to an exclusive distribution deal he signed in November 2017 after “spending some time in Cupertino” and meeting Apple's retail executives.

Read full article