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An "Overnight Success," 18 Years In The Making

For all of her success, Helen Greiner also knows a thing or two about failing.
The co-founder of iRobot, and a serial entrepreneur who is now CEO of the new robotics start-up Driod Works Inc, Greiner said it took 18 years to become “an overnight success.”
Greiner, the opening keynote speaker at the 2009 Babson Entrepreneurship Forum, said her
dreams – inspired by a love of Star Wars and R2D2 – put her on the long and winding path toward success.
“You start with a vast vision but you don’t know what you’re going to be doing a decade from now,” Greiner said. “We had a vast vision but we didn’t know we were going to make vacuum robots or military robots.”
To a packed audience at Sorenson Theatre, Greiner said her early failures developing space robots, entertainment robots and research robots, paved the way for her company’s commercial success.
By staying close to her customers, learning from failures, building a solid team and staying persistent, Greiner helped iRobot find its winning formula.
“My advice to you is just go for it, especially if you are younger and you don’t have the mortgage and you don’t have the kids,” Greiner said. “Especially in this country where if you don’t succeed, it’s still kind of like a badge of honor.”
Greiner said the key for her, and any aspiring entrepreneur, is to follow what you love.
“Do what you are passionate about and get people who are also passionate about it to surround you,” Greiner said.

– By Andrew Lightman M’11