Part of our special series of episodes of the c-suite podcast that we’re recording in partnership with the European PR Agency Tyto and their own Without Borders podcast, this interview is with Romain Moulin, Co-founder and CEO, Exotec.
Co-hosts Russell Goldsmith, Founder, Audere, and Tyto’s Senior Partner, Holly Justice were joined online by Romain Moulin, Co-founder and CEO of the global robotics company Exotec. Founded in 2015, the company has since secured $477m in funding reaching unicorn status in January 2022 with a valuation of $2bn.
Robotics for Warehouses is what Exotec does best.
Instead of an army of employees wandering around the warehouse doing anything up to 15km a day, Exotec wants to disrupt the industry with their fleet of mobile robots which can go everywhere within a warehouse. Even up to the ceiling! Romain explains that by investing in a robot, it can speed up warehouse processes to five times faster.
Romain founded Exotec with Reunaud Heitz and having similar careers within the engineering industry and then healthcare imaging, it helped build the foundation of Exotec. They learnt what goes on inside warehouses and then built a company based on their experience along with their willingness to bring something new to disrupt the industry.
The market is huge, an estimated $50bn with only a few players within the space. As any founder would, Romain wants to take Exotec to be the major player within this field.
Romain said: ‘Continuing that the competitors get anything from $1bn to $3bn revenue, and there are only six or seven of them. This year they will do $180m so they must take Exotec within this big player doing robotics instead of traditional automation.’
Right now, Exotec have systems in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, all over Europe, Japan, US and Canada. Being keen to market in different territories is vital for Exotec to make revenue.
Leadership is important and having role models to look up to can shape an individual’s future. Romain said he had two kinds of individuals which he looks up to and have brought him success.
Firstly, his boss at his first job who allowed him to truly understand B2B business and the confidence you build to your end customer. The second being Jeff Bezos along with other influential figures as they have taught him the importance of the future of business.
Romain stated: ‘It’s not about the processes or product, it’s really about how your people are working’.
But what are Romain’s key strengths when it comes to the all-important leadership skills? He refers to the culture. Low-ego people.
When discussing culture, he states the market was very simple. They were the 25th unicorn of France and that was sticking to a plan made by the government to have 25 unicorns in a certain amount of time.
So, it made them a lot of advertising because [President] Macron just talked about them because they were the 25th and an industrial unicorn. It created a lot of communication on the different media and a lot of awareness of Exotec worldwide.
Differentiation is so important when trying to disrupt an industry, therefore Romain said he tends to say they are doing warehouse robotics instead of warehouse automation. Their ability to deliver a flexible system to deliver is also a key differentiator.
In terms of communication channels Romain reinforced they are a very B2B business, so the likes of LinkedIn is the main communication method on socials which connects to their consumer.
With all of the economic uncertainty around at the moment, it may be necessary for companies to adjust their communicational approach to maintain the confidence built up in companies like Exotec.
Romain doesn’t see their feet slowing down anytime soon. Understanding that everyone is feeling the crisis is important. The transformation of the supply chain is not slowing down. And so far at Exotec they are keeping the same speed on the market and a have very good future in front of them.
For internal communication, what works best at Exotec is in fact transparency. Making sure every level of the organisation is understanding where the company is and where it aims to be. It is this transparency through Exotec which allows the departments to grow and how to reach the end goals.
When recruitment is spoken about, Romain reinforced HR and the ability to hire and to get people on board was the most important function. He said you cannot do it yourself past 50 people as it does not work anymore.
Transparency in Exotec works externally as well. Unlike many company leaders, he manages to be the same guy when in the company and outside the company. Having the same stories for everyone makes life a lot easier. He values the importance of customer relationship, and this allows them to build and grow together.
Being a natural communicator doesn’t come easy to many. Romain is an example of this as he explained whilst at school, he was not a good communicator and that’s within his personal relations. His experiences between 20-40 years old have shaped him into the communicator he is today.
The switch between talking and listening has been the biggest communication challenge and has taught him the lesson that to be confident you don’t need to talk too much. You have nothing to prove.
If Romain could go back in time and speak to his old self, this is the piece of advice he would say. He said around the age of 18 learning not to talk and instead listen would have been very valuable to him.