Interview with Helen Greiner

Helen Greiner

In the early days of iRobot Corp. (Nasdaq:IRBT), co-founder and Chairman of the Board Helen Greiner envisioned robots as the basis for an entirely new class of products that would improve life by taking on dangerous and undesirable tasks. Greiner's vision has been brought to life by products such as the iRobot Roomba® Vacuuming Robot, which has sold more than 2 million units to consumers throughout the world, and the iRobot PackBot® Tactical Mobile Robot, which is helping to save soldiers' lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Greiner's nearly 20 years in robot innovation and commercialization includes work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab, where she met iRobot co-founders Colin Angle and Rodney Brooks. Before founding iRobot in 1990, Greiner founded California Cybernetics, a company focused on commercializing NASA Jet Propulsion Lab technology and performing government-sponsored research in robotics. Greiner holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in computer science, both from MIT. In 2005, she led led iRobot through its initial public offering. She also guided iRobot's early strategic corporate growth initiatives by securing $35 million in venture funding to finance iRobot's expansion in the consumer and military categories. In addition, Greiner created iRobot's Government & Industrial Robots division - starting with government research funding leading to the first deployment of robots in combat in Operation Enduring Freedom. Currently, the division is shipping iRobot PackBot robots for improvised explosive device (IED) disposal in Iraq. In part because of the success of these initiatives, Greiner has helped enhance public acceptance of robots as one of today's most important emerging technology categories. Greiner was named by the Kennedy School at Harvard in conjunction with US News and World Report as one of America's Best Leaders and was recently honored with the Pioneer Award from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) in appreciation for her work in military robotics. Greiner has been honored by the World Economic Forum as both a Global Leader for Tomorrow and a Young Global Leader. In 2005 Good Housekeeping Magazine named her "Entrepreneur of the Year," and Accenture honored her as "Small Business Icon" in its Government Women Leadership Awards. In 2003, Greiner was recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of its "Top 10 Innovators of 2003" and named the Ernst and Young New England "Entrepreneur of the Year" with cofounder Colin Angle. Greiner won the prestigious "DEMO God" award at the DEMO 2000 Conference. In 1999, she was named an "Innovator for the Next Century" by Technology Review Magazine.

Interview Subject: Helen Grenier
Release Date: June 11, 2007
Duration: 15:30
Interviewer(s): Lucy Sanders, Larry Nelson

Series: Entrepreneurial Heroes