080: Elizabeth De Zulueta (Zulubots)

Elizabeth De Zulueta on Innovation City

“Even if you love a product or love the idea of a product…you can always go to it later, but the business has to be viable and you have to have the foundation first.” — Elizabeth De Zulueta

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Elizabeth De Zulueta, CEO of Zulubots, Inc.. Zulubots is an engineering company that focuses on robotics and automation systems. Elizabeth grew up having two parents who were engineers. Watching them create new technologies and machines cultivated her own passion for creating something useful from nothing. Elizabeth sits down with the team to discuss how she became passionate about engineering and robotics, learning how to pivot your business in order to keep it viable, helping local businesses and communities, her experience being a part of an accelerator, and her focus to build and manufacture in Miami.

They discuss:

  • Dance accident that caused her to be in a wheelchair for 3 months
    • Realized how hard a wheelchair made life
    • Her journey to start Zulubots beginning from here
  • Competing in the BattleBots professional division and winning the 2009 championship
  • Tips for how to be successful at BattleBots
  • Zulubots original focus and goal was to have robots in the home to help lift and move objects
    • Helping people feel more independent through the help of robotics
    • Focusing robots on function rather than just companionship
  • Zulubots current focus and goal is to help bars and breweries track their taps in real time
    • There was no technology on the market at the time that could provide this data
    • It allows bars and breweries to use the data to know whether something is selling well or if they need to adjust
  • Learning how to pivot your business in order to keep it viable
  • Even if you have to change products/services, you can always go back later and pick it up again
  • Wanting to help local businesses and communities regardless of what she is selling
  • How to know when it’s time to pivot your business:
    • Not hitting your product milestones
    • Everything is costing more than expected
    • Compliance issues
  • The decision to pivot is made up of many small things not going according to plan
  • Knowing when to take off the engineer hat and put on the CEO hat
  • The accelerator (WIN Lab) she was a part of helped her realize she needed to adjust her business
  • Her experience being a part of the first cohort of WIN Lab
    • Building relationships
    • The accelerator staying in contact with alumni
    • Getting connected to resources
    • Support from fellow alumni
  • Zulubots is moving into the manufacturing realm to start creating small batches of their prototypes
  • The trial and errors that come with manufacturing
  • Her focus has always been to build and manufacture in Miami
  • Miami used to have a lot of manufacturing and she believes in the potential for the future
  • The myth that you either go into trade work or you go to college
    • Working in a trade job helped lead her to college
  • The validation of being able to make something out of nothing
  • Reach out to Elizabeth via email, Instagram, & Twitter