Team of siblings runs lucrative robot clothing business

"If you don't dress up your Roomba, it's just a naked vacuum," quotes the website of MyRoomBud is a company run by a group of siblings that makes costumes for your Roomba and Scooba. I met two of the team at an MIT event two weeks ago and got the chance to ask Tyler, the CEO, some questions about their business.

roombud_crew.jpgHow old are you guys? How long have you been in business?

myRoomBud is a company that my brother, Niles (13) and I (16) started about two and a half years ago, a few weeks before Christmas. We first began to sell the covers on eBay to earn some extra money in order to pay for Christmas gifts, particularly a pair of cowboy boots for our mother. After Christmas, however, we found that we had made so much money that we decided to continue the myRoomBud business. We employed the help of your younger siblings, Isabelle (10 years old) and Griffin (8 years old).

Do you all have different jobs?

Niles and I used to cut the cloth to be sewn by our parents into the RoomBud covers. Isabelle and Griffin helped sorting the cloth that we had cut into different piles so we would always know where everything was. Niles and I were also in charge of shipping the RoomBuds. Nowadays, we all cut and ship. We have also hired students from my high school to do the sewing of our costumes. The longer we continue the company, the less physical work we end up doing. Now, we mainly focus on running our company and finding new ways of lessening the work that needs to be done.

I see you do costumes for both Roomba and Scooba -- do you have any plans to expand to other robots, either that iRobot makes (like the new Looj or ConnectR) or from other companies (the Aibo, Robosapien, etc)?

Although we have considered making costume covers for the iRobot Looj and ConnectR, we have not actually put these ideas into production. We try to stay away from other companies.

Spotty_coco.jpgWhat got you interested in dressing up your Roomba?

We originally got the idea of dressing up the Roomba while we were watching my youngest brother, Griffin, follow the Roomba around as it cleaned the floors. At first we just taped paper ears to the vacuum, but soon the paper became felt, and the next thing we knew we were going to Joanne Fabrics to buy cloth that had animal print on it for the sole purpose of making a RoomBud cover.

Why do you think people like to dress up their Roombas and Scoobas, but not their normal vacuums or mops?

Niles and I both agree that what probably causes people to dress up their Roombas, and not their normal vacuums, is the lifelike way that the Roomba feels its way around a room cleaning the floor. It is the same thing that first enthralled Griffin when he first saw the Roomba at work. And of course, there's the obvious answer, our company motto: If you don't dress up your Roomba, it's just a naked vacuum!

Photos courtesy myRoomBud



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