Trashbots’ robotics kit, photo courtesy of Trashbots

The pandemic has spurred demand for Trashbots, which makes a hands-on robotics platform aimed at the K-12 market.

“The K-12 market, as a whole, is more important now than ever,” said Rohit Srinivasan, Co-Founder of Trashbots. “Especially as schools are trying to figure out how they are going to teach in a post COVID world.”

Trashbots provides a really unique way for schools to do hands-on STEM and robotics education from the safety of a student’s own home, he said.

“That is what makes us more relevant now than ever,” he said. “Schools are buying our product and shipping it to their students’ home and conducting robotics classes over Zoom.”

And it’s not just schools, Rohit said. Parents are also buying Trashbot’s products, he said.

The Austin-based startup recently completed the Sputnik accelerator, which provided its initial investment round of $100,000. Trashbots is working to complete its $500,000 seed-stage round and has signed on Trinidadian DJ and entrepreneur Christopher Leacock, also known as Jillionaire, founder of Silicon Labs, Nav Sooch; Austin Ventures founder, Joe Aragona; and founder of Yodle and OJO Labs, John Berkowitz.

Trashbots plans to use the funding to expand its supply chains and inventory and on marketing and hiring two or three additional employees.  The company has four employees right now and has several contract employees as well.

Trashbots is also able to run a really lean company and tap into talent pools at the university level by providing students with hands-on experience working on a robotics startup, Rohit Srinivasan said.

In Austin, Rohit Srinivasan and his brother Sidharth Srinivasan founded Trashbots in the spring of 2016 along with Paul Austin, a former NI executive. The Srinivasan brothers were still in high school at the time. Today, Rohit is a junior studying engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and Sidharth has graduated from Westlake High School and deferred his acceptance to Stanford for a year to work on Trashbots full time.

The Sputnik Accelerator program allowed Trashbots to kick the business in high gear and scale the business, Rohit Srinivasan said. It also introduced them to their current COO Chris Strzok, who lives in Wisconsin and has a background in STEM education.

Trashbots sells its products nationally to schools and to individuals through its website. It’s seen a huge uptick in demand since the pandemic, Sidharth Srinivasan said. And right now, schools are seeking products that provide an alternative to screen time for students, he said.

“They need other ways to keep their students engaged that is not staring at a screen,” Sidharth Srinivasan said.

Trashbots has been a good solution to that, he said.

“We’re poised to see a lot of growth over the next year or so,” Rohit Srinivasan said.

Trashbots sells a Trashbots Kit for $100 or a 10 pack for $1,000. It also provides courses for free on its website to program the robot.

Students have made fishing rods, ball kickers, construction machines, and even a robot that makes music with the kits, Rohit Srinivasan said.

“The possibilities of what you can do with this one kit is limitless,” he said.