Summer Venture Award winners receive $10,000 to work on their startups over the summer. We asked the 2017 recipients what they achieved this summer.

Achille Verheye, GEN’18, Founder of Rigrade

What did you set out to achieve this summer with the Summer Venture Award, and did you do so? If not, what changed?

Our main milestones were to prove that we were capable of building a robot that can climb scaffolds, identify a well-defined and interesting use case paired with a market that craves our solution. We started from a market we were excited about but not convinced of: communication tower repair and maintenance. We ended up identifying two other use cases and markets that showed interest in our product: the oil and gas industry for inspection and the military (DARPA) for surveillance.

Negative point: we waited too long to file for patents: an IP specialist shouted at us for not having filed 8 provisional patents yet but that process is in its final stages already now.

Describe a great startup moment from this summer.

The moment our robot first autonomously reached the top of our scaffold structure after failing for various reasons in the two weeks before that.

How has your Summer Venture Award mentor, Laurent Adamowicz, WG’84, helped you?

Just by explaining about the process: what you’ve been working on and still want to do–you not only get feedback, but you must also think about your work critically.

What comes next? How will you work on your startup over the coming school year?

All three of us will be graduated in a year from now. We will continue our market research, especially on the military side where we heard that we can get a good chance of getting a grant or SBIR for continued development.


Posted: September 29, 2017

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