Robotics / Startups / Technology

Electric motor startup IQ Motion Control hopes Philly becomes a hub for robotics

The startup, run by a pair of cousins at the Pennovation Center, is hiring additional team members after grabbing seed funding from Gabriel Investments.

Cofounders Jon Broome (left) and Matt Piccoli. (Courtesy photo)

The cofounders of smart motor startup IQ Motion Control, Jon Broome and Matt Piccoli, have known each other “forever.”

It’s not just a term they throw around to say they’ve known each other for a while: The pair literally grew up together — they’re cousins — and in the last three years, have become business partners.

Broome had started a high-protein snacks delivery company while at Middlebury College, but “that company died,” he said. He’d also studied economics, and during a holiday break, got to talking with Piccoli who was working on his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in mechanical engineering.

“He told me he was thinking of starting a company,” Broome, now CEO, said of that conversation. “I didn’t know too much about robotics, but I was interested in running the day-to-day and business development.”

The pair set out in January 2017 to build a product off of Piccoli’s research, and built a line of smart electric motors. The motors and the software behind them work to make their machines quieter and smoother, and eliminate a lot of potential hardware deficiencies, Broome said.

A smart electric motor. (Courtesy photo)

They specifically work for small machines like drones, 3D printers, robotics or industrial machinery.

Piccoli, the company’s CTO, developed the technology out of his research in Penn’s GRASP Lab, and in late 2017 participated in the HAX accelerator in China, where the pair received $100,000 in funding and worked on the first iteration of their product.

When they returned to the U.S., they worked for a few months with Flyability, a robotics and drones company, on a caged drone that needed a highly efficient motor.

Since then, the company has set up shop at the Pennovation Center, where the cousins work along with a mechanical engineer.

And the small team will likely be expanding more: The company raised a $850,000 seed round lead by Gabriel Investments at the end of last year. They’re in the process of hiring an electrical engineer, Broome said, and also want to add a sales person by the end of the year.

Broome said that Philadelphia and the Pennovation Center has been a great place to run a robotics company.

“I think a lot of the focus is on biomedical, biotech, but between Penn, Drexel [University] and Temple [University], there’s a lot of great work being done in the robotics field,” he said.

The company’s biggest goal for 2020 is to close several partnerships with robotics or motor manufacturers, Broome said.

“We hope Philly becomes kind of like a Silicon Valley, a hub for robotics,” he added.

Companies: Pennovation Center / Gabriel Investments / University of Pennsylvania

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