About 16 years ago, despite being unable to use a computer system in Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, Silas Adekunle had a passion for dissecting technology and developing devices.
This passion drove him to further investigate the world of robotics technology when he arrived the United Kingdom at age 11 with his family. Years later, he finished with first class honours in Robotics at the University of West England, Bristol.
Today, the 27-year-old Nigerian-born gamer is believed to be among the best brains in the field of robotics and one of the leading robotics engineer in the world.
Business Insider SSA caught up with Silas Adekunle to discuss his vision, ideas for STEM, a deal with Apple, his thoughts on the chances of robotics becoming prominent in Nigeria and of-course, to set the record straight on reports that he is highest paid robotics engineer in the world.
Behind the fame
Behind the fame and hype, Silas says starting a business is naturally a huge challenge. Silas runs Reach Robotics, a consumer robotics company. Reach makes robots for entertainment and gaming purposes.
“When I started out, I had amazing support from my university and the Bristol Robotics Lab – but communicating the potential of MekaMon, as well as the technology itself, to people outside of that world required some imagination,” Silas says.
MekaMon is a first – a gaming robot with AR capabilities – an unfamiliar concept in video-gaming that he developed while in school.
Reach Robotics introduces MekaMon to global markets
In 2013, Silas pitched the prototype of MekaMon to several investors and started the company Reach Robotics – a program designed around the framework of robotics and gaming in education.
Later he was joined by Chris Beck, a world-class robotics expert and John Rees, a manufacturing and operations expertise with a common belief for a more complex robotic toy with greater value and even greater longevity.
“Building the robotics and the software of MekaMon in tandem is core to our development but has added an additional layer of complexity as we aim to deliver a cutting-edge gaming experience, “ Silas tells Business Insider SSA.
Then Apple came in
On his relationship with Apple, Silas says that launched the company into mass retail markets in November 2017 after pitching the MekaMon unit to one of the company’s investors. He said the pitch formed an instant connection as its products now sit proudly on Apple Store shelves across the UK and US, and shipping to a number of European countries.
Silas expresses shock over reports describing him as the highest paid Robotics engineer in the world
The Reach Robotics team say they were slightly surprised to see the reports calling Silas “the highest paid robotics engineer in the world”.
“We were slightly surprised to see that statement being reported. The other major inaccuracy is the ‘deal with Apple’ – MekaMon is available on Apple, but we launched on there a year ago – and the leap in logic that said launch makes him the highest paid robotics engineer is not factual.”
Silas added about the report, “It’s certainly very flattering but not true just yet. Having MekaMon listed on Apple last year was a big step forward for Reach and we’ll continue to work to get our technology in the hands of as many people as possible.”
The impact of Reach’s world-class gaming robot
He says playing games is an excellent way to learn – making MekaMon, and consumer robotics as a whole, an ideal pathway into engineering, game design and coding.
“We believe that this technology has huge potential within STEM education – both as a teaching aid and as a means to inspire the next generation – whatever their backgrounds – to aspire to a career in STEM.”
Nigeria and Africa in the gaming mix
Nigerian-born Silas says his company is looking at the potential in the Nigerian market and “inevitably I’ll have an eye on the country where I grew up – but we’re not on sale in Nigeria just yet.”
“I’m also very aware of the value of role models in encouraging young people to pursue a career in STEM. I hope that I might be a positive example of what is possible for kids in Nigeria with the same passion for dissecting technology and developing devices that I did at their age.”
Also from Business Insider Sub-Sahara Africa: