Emotech: London has welcomed emotional robot developer Chelsea Chen with open arms

Chelsea Chen, co-founder of Emotech, was surprised by the support London offered her startup since moving from China

Emotech: London has welcomed emotional robot developer Chelsea Chen with open arms

As if moving thousands of miles from China to London wasn’t disorientating enough for Chelsea Chen, co-founder of Emotech, the AI developer, she and her startup secured the One To Watch accolade at the London Business Awards only five years later. So what exactly does that feel like? “First thing? It’s very exciting,” she says about the win. “Super, super exciting. And secondly, a nice surprise.” 

This reaction also summarises Chen’s experience of London and Britain as a whole over the last half-decade, which she says has given Emotech unbelievable support to get the robot developer where it is today. “I mean, as a person from China, it’s really hard for us to imagine so much support you can get from the government people,” she says.

And such backing began as soon as Emotech did three years ago. “Most importantly, I really get a lot of support from London & Partners,” Chen says. This praise also extends to the Big Smoke at large which, staying true to its reputation as Europe’s tech capital, has proved itself as a melting pot of innovation, development and the likes for Chen. “London is an amazing place,” she says, explaining that it’s about more than just her products. “We have great AI scientists, really, really good developers and amazing product designers who combine everything together.”

It’s certainly all gone to good use. Judges reeled off many accomplishments since its birth three years ago that made Emotech deserving to take home the One To Watch award. Indeed, despite sounding like specialist software for fans of My Chemical Romance, Emotech is the developer of a highly sophisticated home robot called Olly. Think Amazon Echo and Google Home but with a cuddlier name and greater emotional understanding. “That’s the personal robot [whose] personality won four CES awards,” Chen describes of her creation. And for good reason: Olly interprets facial expressions, vocal intonations, verbal patterns and all kinds of subtle human telltale signs to gauge how you’re feeling. With this information at hand, the robot may even strike up a conversation with you if it’s feeling the mood. 

Olly’s an impressive feat but isn’t the limit of Emotech’s success. “From the end of last year we also reached our leading technology [out] to the software licensing business for the top Chinese tech leaders [and] leading brands,” Chen details. “We’ve grown fast. I’m so happy.” And she has a few best-kept secrets for fellow entrepreneurs hoping to one day say the same thing. “I think the first thing is always [be] full of passion and hope,” she advises. “The second is always trust others, there are so many good people around you. People can help you. I think the kind of help and support I get from London is probably one of the big reasons we can reach this level in such a short period.” 

This article comes courtesy of London & Partners’ Business Growth Programme. Tailored to your business growth ambitions, the programme offers free impartial business advice and support to SMEs looking to grow across London

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