AITech Interview with Michel Spruijt, CRO, Brain Corp

Operating robots at scale is difficult. You have to ensure that the robots you have deployed are performing efficiently. Are robots going to replace humans?

1. Can you tell us more about yourself and your career before Brain Corp?

Prior to joining Brain Corp, I held the position of General Manager EMEA at Ergotron. I spent twenty years in this role. I built up a number of cross-functional teams and managed Ergotron’s growth trajectory across the continent. I also held several leadership roles at Ergotron, including management positions in Business Development, Sales, Operations, Customer Care, Technical Support, and Business Operations.

I earned my degree at the Grafisch Lyceum Utrecht, and speak four languages.

2. Could you tell us more about Brain Corp and your role there as a CRO?

Brain Corp was founded in 2009 in San Diego as a consultancy division for robotics and AI within international tech giant, Qualcomm. In 2014, the company broke out as a standalone company focused on building brains for robots. The company looked into which industry would benefit the most from robotics and from more automation and singled out the cleaning industry as one in need of innovation. Teaming up with a manufacturer, Brain Corp developed its first robot in 2016. In 2017, backed by major investment, the company introduced its first BrainOS-powered robot to the market.

BrainOS® is an AI software that Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partners install to make their cleaning machines operate autonomously and safely in indoor public spaces. The platform now not only powers autonomous cleaning operations but also facilitates location mapping, inventory scanning and other data-driven functions.

In 2019, Brain Corp expanded outside of the US, opening a European headquarters in Amsterdam. My job up until recently was to lead Brain Corp’s European operations and growth. As CRO, I now lead Brain Corp’s broader commercial strategy, sales, business development, and customer success teams across all existing and emerging markets. I also handle the company’s sales channel and partner strategy, building on our fleet of over 20,000 BrainOS®-powered robots in the world’s public spaces.

3. Which industries do you mainly cater to?

BrainOS®-powered machines can be found in a multitude of critical industries. The majority of our clients operate within sectors including: retail, logistics and warehousing, malls, airports, schools and commercial property management.

4. What are the products and services that Brain Corp offers?

BrainOS® powers the world’s largest fleet of cleaning machines, with over 20,000 robots that run on our platform worldwide. In partnership with our OEMs, we are also creating new solutions which offer new functionalities to existing machines. An example of this is our new inventory scanning technology which allows autonomous floor scrubbers to scan shelves as they navigate stores gathering stock data. This real time insight can lead to dramatically improved store management and improve customer experiences. These types of dual purpose functionalities also help offset labor shortages, which have crippled various client industries these past two years.

Automation enables organizations to free up staff time for more specialized tasks, while machines take care of those that are dangerous, mundane or repetitive.

5. What makes Brain Corp unique? Why should brands choose Brain Corp?

The quickest and simplest way to get AMRs up and running is through a “Teach & Repeat” methodology. This approach, available exclusively through BrainOS®-enabled robotic applications (scrubbers and scanners), involves a human operator first driving a machine on its cleaning route, allowing the machine to form a “memory” of the path, which is then stored within the robot and made available as one of its pre-programmed routes. This enables the robot to operate safely and autonomously, starting from a designated “home marker” wherever the scrubber is deployed (retail and grocery, airports, malls, campuses).

The Teach & Repeat methodology for managing robotic applications offers several key benefits for end customers, including, ease of training for new operators, quick route setting and resetting, and operational flexibility.

6. You have overseen Brain Corp lead the world’s largest fleet of AI-powered autonomous robots, with 100 billion square feet covered autonomously. Can you elaborate on this?

Our machines hit the 100 billion square feet milestone in November 2021, since starting out in 2018. Over 8.1 million hours of operation have been completed to date.

In a broader context: as a company Brain Corp is helping to lead an automation revolution in workplaces. Businesses are experiencing painful disruptions as a result of faltering supply chains and worker shortages. Automated robotics are no longer viewed as a threat to human workforces but as a vital lifeline for overburdened teams, freeing up workers from tedious or dangerous tasks. In turn, this helps create sustainable operations that are robust in the face of serious disruption. I’m really excited by Brain Corp’s potential to become the go-to partner for leaders across industry sectors as they continue to bring automation into their operations.

7. What according to you is the greatest challenge that the company overcame?

I think the greatest challenges we’ve faced are the fears that robots will replace human labor. These misconceptions were altered considerably during the pandemic when company leaders were forced to look at solutions which would assist their human teams and help them maintain safety. It became increasingly clear that robots could be integrated with teams versus replacing them. Humans will always be needed to help robots operate most effectively.

Operating a fleet of robots at scale is inherently difficult. You have to ensure that the robots you have deployed are performing efficiently round the clock. We put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that our software is keeping pace with new features on the market. Every six to eight weeks we update our software, carrying out feature enhancements and bug fixes. All of these processes mean that bringing a robot on-site marks the start of an ongoing relationship between users and automated technology, not the end of it. When implementing robot solutions, companies must ensure their teams clearly understand how to get the best out of them.

8. What is the message you want to spread with this interview?

Robotics is already part of our day to day life and will be more and more in the future. So instead of running away from it, embrace it and see how robots can help you in your environment.

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Michel Spruijt

Chief Revenue Officer at Brain Corp

Michel Spruijt is the Chief Revenue Officer at Brain Corp. Michel is responsible for partner support, team expansion, and the oversight of general operations throughout the region.  
Prior to joining Brain Corp, Michel held the position of General Manager EMEA at Ergotron. During his twenty year tenure, Michel successfully built cross-functional teams and managed Ergotron’s growth trajectory in EMEA. He held several roles at Ergotron, including management positions in Business Development, Sales, Operations, Customer Care, Technical Support, and Business Operations.  
Michel speaks four languages including Dutch, English, German, and Hungarian, and received a degree from Grafisch Lyceum Utrecht.

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