One of the founding principles of Calibrate Ventures is: it’s all about people. We have had the opportunity to back intrepid founders transforming industries with cutting-edge technologies and innovative business models. Paolo Pirjanian, CEO and co-founder of Embodied, is one of those founders. We’ve worked closely with Paolo for a decade and have invested in two robotics companies he’s founded. Today, we are excited to announce that Paolo is joining Calibrate Ventures as a venture partner.
At Calibrate, Paolo will be a founder-VC who continues to operate and lead Embodied, while also collaborating closely on our investment team. In his new role as venture partner at Calibrate, Paolo will help scout for the best robotics and automation technologies five to ten years on the horizon, doing technical and market due diligence, and become a trusted resource to the executive and technical teams in our portfolio. Getting access to a seasoned entrepreneur, top roboticist, and operating partner like Paolo will provide our founders with a tremendous advantage as they grow their companies. Paolo’s day-to-day role as founder and CEO of Embodied will not change, but we are thrilled to welcome him to the Calibrate investment team.
I first met Paolo in 2011 when he was CEO of Evolution Robotics, a startup that developed cutting-edge and low-cost location and navigation technology for autonomous robots. Paolo’s technical chops, clear vision, and excellent operational skills were clear back then, and we invested in Evolution Robotics from the beginning. iRobot later acquired Evolution and embedded its core technology in its Roomba robot vacuums for better performance at lower cost, and also expanded its consumer product line to include Evolution’s flagship consumer product, the Mint robotic vacuum (renamed Braava by iRobot).
As part of the acquisition, Paolo became CTO of iRobot, where he led an R&D team of 600 that built and shipped more than 6.5 million Roombas and Braavas. Since Evolution’s acquisition, iRobot has shipped over 18.7 million units—virtually all of which trace their smart navigation software to Paolo and his Evolution team. Paolo left iRobot in 2016 because he saw human-robot interaction as the next challenge, frontier, and opportunity for robots. We backed him for a second time at Embodied, the company he founded in 2016 to go after the human-robot interaction (HRI) market. Embodied’s first product, Moxie, will showcase Paolo’s vision for how animate companions can create connection and empathy in humans. Moxie promotes social, emotional, and cognitive skills development in children, and Embodied will soon launch more companion robots for other populations like the elderly.
Paolo has also taught courses in AI and done robotics research at University of Southern California and served as a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory. He is skilled in AI and automation technologies, computer vision, natural language, navigation, conversational AI, companion robotics (with a special interest in mental health), and human-machine interface (HMI) design. He holds a PhD in robotics from Aalborg University in Denmark, a country he previously called home after emigrating from Armenia.
Welcome Paolo! We’re looking forward to working even more closely with you!