Fred Margolin is a serial entrepreneur who has created several companies in the insurance and finance field. With his experience, he helped develop RoboKind’s business plan, and financed the company’s first venture. He also contributed to bringing the cost of building Milo down from $20,000 to close to $5,000.
Now, he helps RoboKind develop marketing strategies and provides the right information to the public about the benefits their products offers. Instead of pushing the technological advances that Milo and RoboKind bring, they focus on the benefits Milo offers and the impact he has on children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
“I saw these robots had phenomenal potential to be a product worthy for schools as a platform to create a connection with human beings, if they were used right.”
Why did he start RoboKind?
Fred saw several robotic products on the consumer market that he called the ’10-minute toy’. When he bought toys for kids, he noticed that the child would only be interested for a few minutes, before moving on to something else. A robot that offered continuous content would create a long-lasting product that could be used in more settings than just for entertainment purposes.
Fred and the team went to the Autism Treatment Center with their first prototype after learning that children with ASD were able to connect easier with robots. The studies at the center suggested that using robots to deliver social skill lessons would help children with ASD develop essential communication skills. Working closely with researchers like Dr. Carolyn Garver, who is the specialist and the head of the Autism Treatment Center at UTD, and Dr. Pam Rollins at the Callier School, RoboKind created comprehensive lesson plans for ASD learners.
“We pushed both on the content side and on the hardware side to create what we have now. It’s been a labor of love.”
What was the ‘WOW’ moment?
There were several moments when Fred knew that RoboKind’s work was making a difference. One moment that stood out were children utilizing their calm down methods. Children with ASD receive information differently and can be easily overwhelmed by stimuli. The ASD brain is unable to filter out the stimuli resulting in the child throwing fits to rid themselves of the irritation. RoboKind developed a few lesson plans to help ASD learners recognize when they’re being overwhelmed, and use tactics to calm themselves down. In short, Milo wasn’t just teaching children how to understand emotions, but also to self-regulate and communicate when they are uncomfortable.
“I didn’t realize the complete power of ‘Calm Down’.”
Fred’s plans for the future:
Currently, Fred is working with the sales team to generate different stratagems that will help schools across the country receive funding, and get Milo in their classrooms. Fred is watching several state legislators’ in hopes that a bill will pass that gives funding to RoboKind’s program, and others like it. They’re also preparing to launch the Robots4Stem program, which will teach children as early as 3rd-grade basic computer programming logic. Fred is working with his sales team to ensure that the information and message for the project will reach a wide range audience.