Born in 2015 in the Pink City, Wyca Robotics, specializing in the development of indoor autonomous industrial robots, has only a small handful of machines in circulation. A situation that can seem worrisome in the unforgiving world of technology. But after the last 12 turbulent months internally, the startup seems to have resumed its march, in the face of a major update of its organization and its economic model.
“ I came to change society. It is a new Wyca that appears on the market today confirms William Le Ferrand, the company’s new CEO, direct from the United States. Taking office during the summer of 2022, the new manager was thus approached and robbed of his previous activities by M Capital, a shareholder of Wyca Robotics since the 1.6 million euros raised in 2021.
“When I did my audit before registering my arrival, I noticed a working method… a little confusing and, above all, the team was very young. For most of them, it was their first job”, recalls William Le Ferrand, who at the same time realized Wyca’s enormous technological potential. “We have French robots that are more agile, more flexible and more responsive than the competition”, he promises.
An arrival that caused, unsurprisingly, the departure of the company’s historic CEO, Patrick Dehlinger, who tendered his resignation at the same time as the audit carried out by his future successor.
Goal of one million euros in turnover in 2023
The transparency and frankness of the new head of Wyca Robotics at certain points can sometimes be surprising, but that is part of his management. ” I am transparent with everyone (…) We move forward with method and modesty, and calmly “, he presents.
The first phase of its plan consists of validating the “matching” between the products marketed by the company and the needs of the market. “ We just validated this crucial first step “, he confides in the process. As a reminder, Wyca Robotics offers two robots: the Shuttle, small and round in shape, which can carry out operations for transporting parts or goods, for example, and the ASTRID robot, more imposing and with a rectangular base, which resembles an inventory robot.
“From now on, the heart of the company is the end customer and no longer the technology. In the past, Wyca has tried to get off the ground by selling its robots white label to industrial integrators for their end customers. But it didn’t work because nobody bought robots from us. This way of approaching the market has been a failure (…) All the projects that do not fit into our new strategy were beaten, including Decathlon for example. Based on the two robots we developed, we will do everything to attract customers by developing their use cases with them. We are targeting eight identified uses in the near term, but Wyca will not invest in developing a use case if there is no end customer associated with the process. We are a small structure, it is easy to drown”, presents the CEO, who refuses to talk about “backtracking” for Wyca Robotics.
Reassured of the interest in its technologies, Wyca Robotics will now have to quickly get its first orders to confirm that interest. Purpose? 500,000 euros of turnover for the year 2023 for each of the two robots. Some customers are already happy with this new approach and have placed orders, such as Safran on Shuttle and ID Logistics for ASTRID.
” The challenge for us now will be to repeat these sales, with the concern that our manufacturing partners can keep up with a possible increase in production rates. says William Le Ferrand, who also started working with the two Tarn partners in charge of robot production, Occion (electronic card) and Usitech (machining). On the production side, Wyca Robotics, which has just hired a technician, a former mechanic in the aeronautics industry, intends to internalize the assembly of its robots, now entrusted to Usitech, which is not their responsibility.
Wyca Robotics is engaged in a reorganization of its operational capabilities (Credits: Joris Gaigne – Wyca).
An (American?) fundraiser in preparation
This production reorganization has recently begun within the start-up’s ranks and its suppliers should allow the supply chain to absorb a much higher volume of orders than it does today, while Wycca Robotics plans to work on a total of eight use cases by 2024. and so many customers, initially. ” We want to have impact before having volume “, comments the CEO. The autonomous robotics startup then hopes to attract more and respond to more requests with a more robust operating structure.
Today, the small company employs about twenty people, including a dozen in France and four robotics engineers in Hungary. It also plans to recruit an American team by the end of 2023. We want to double the size of the team during the year », announces William Le Ferrand. The roboticist will thus be able to have close to 40 employees by the beginning of 2024, after having seen its staff drop to five people during the internal reorganization.
To this end, the new management is working on raising funds by the summer of 2023, of at least 2.4 million euros. This operation, and above all its amount, will condition the future operational capacity of the startup. The stakes are therefore high and the CEO is possibly betting on his American network to complete the round table. Discussions have already started with investors who strongly believe in the potential of the “new” Wyca Robotics. Proof of their equity, the current investors (M Capital and business angels) decided to return to the pot at the end of 2022 to guarantee the company’s one year of operation excluding revenue. Some would even be ready to participate in the future funding round.