Startup Series: Meet Cognicept

Cognicept is a service layer and platform from autonomous robotics to help improve failure rates and serviceability of autonomous systems by providing tele-operated, human in the loop support.




The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.

The road to entrepreneurship is unique for each founder who takes it. For some there may be challenges, failures and pivots. For others there could be growth, scale and success.

Antler enables exceptional individuals to take the leap and launch their own entrepreneurial journey, and follows them along the way, supporting, guiding and encouraging them where needed.

We sat down with Michael M. Sayre, founder and CEO of Cognicept Systems. Sayre was an entrepreneur in the first program of Antler in Singapore.

Here's what inspired his team to create Cognicept and their journey of entrepreneurship.

Antler: What was the biggest motivation to create Cognicept?

Michael M. Sayre: Robots are not dexterous. Even if you have a minor amount of problems occurring, the impact is major - like an autonomous car. It can make small mistakes that have a large impact. One in a 1,000 chance is terrible. Having a human in the loop gives you the opportunity and flexibility to deploy sooner and focus on real pain points.

A: What is the value proposition of robotics?

MS: It's flexible technology. I can drop it in place of humans and achieve labour savings.

A: What are some of the challenges that you encountered while building your business?

MS: As a startup, you struggle with reputation because you are new and it's difficult to communicate trust. It's important to have the experienced people back you up and say the right things to make you stronger and bolster your claims.

A: With these challenges mentioned, what does it mean for product and product development in a B2B setting?

MS: It's important to define with the entity what pains them, what they want and what would add value to their business before you start to build anything. Always make sure that you are going in the right direction.

A: When fundraising for a B2B startup, how do you instil confidence in potential investors?

MS: There are a lot of technology companies that have no revenue and I like to remind investors that we are developing a technology product, so us actually having revenue is impressive.You also need to show that you are gaining client interest even though the product doesn't fully exist yet -- go to these entities and get LOIs.

Clients want to know that you will be around for at least a few months otherwise they won't use you. It's important that you get funding to show them that there is support for your business. They also care how much funding you have.

A: What was your biggest learning?

MS: It's important to make sure you are approaching a valid problem. A lot of people go into deep tech because they understand it and see ways to enhance it, but that doesn't coincide with a business value.

Another important thing is to catch the companies at the right time. There is a demand for what we are doing, but it's about timing. It's also about education and awareness. If companies know it exists, if they know this is an option, they will integrate it in their businesses.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news and views from Antler’s global community

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Must-read articles from Antler

Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia

See articles
5 min read
The 2022 Benelux Unicorn Founder Roadmap: How to build unicorns in Benelux

As everyone anticipates the next wave of ultra-successful companies in Benelux, what does it take to get there? What do the successful founders of Benelux unicorns look like? This report is an in-depth look at the Benelux startup ecosystem and its brightest stars. And above all, it is for anyone who is helping build the next 50 unicorns in Benelux.

5 min read
The Angle: Why the long-term view is the hard but right one

The Angle is a new content series from Antler, featuring perspectives from our team members on the biggest events and trends impacting founders and early-stage investors today. Every article is that person's unique angle on a hot topic—what they see from their vantage point in one of our 25 offices around the globe—not Antler's stance. In our first edition, Jeff Becker draws lessons from the demise of FTX and turbulent tech moments in recent years. This article first appeared in Jeff's Monday Morning Meeting on Substack.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Jamie Bubb: The tech marketing venture developer connecting brands and content creators

Our new content series—"It All Starts with People"—delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering wtih around the world. In our second spotlight, we sat down with Jamie Bubb, co-founder of Twirl, a remote content studio powered by top-quality creators that helps brands scale their content engines rapidly and cost-effectively.

5 min read
Venture investing in the downturn

We are living two simultaneous realities: the uncertainty of the current downturn and the unstoppable wave of innovation disrupting every industry. Against this backdrop, Antler's Kevin Brennan shares perspectives on assessing your position in venture capital for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. Might 2023 be the best vintage for the coming decade?

Founder Stories
5 min read
Emilia Theye: The psychologist using AI to democratize access to mental health solutions

Antler was founded on the belief that people innovating is the key to building a better future. To honor them, we are launching a new content series—”It All Starts with People”—spotlighting the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Each story is a window into their passions, motivations, and vision—the reasons they are building and the positive dent they are aiming to make on the world.

In our first spotlight, we sat down with Emilia Theye, the co-founder of clare&me—a mental health app that uses language-based AI to develop an innovative approach to virtual self-help.

5 min read
Backing founders from day zero to greatness

Today we are sharing our new brand that reflects that commitment and the reason Antler exists: to stand behind our founders from day zero and to keep backing them on their paths to greatness.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Seven ways founders can prioritize mental well-being as they build

Founders are the life force of the startup ecosystem. They give their all, betting on their seemingly “crazy” convictions and executing on abstract ideas that can potentially make our lives and work easier, faster, healthier, and better optimized.

But sometimes they do this to the detriment of their health. Being a founder means being beholden to customers, employees, and investors while balancing personal life. Often founders trade their stable, well-paying jobs to prioritize the restless inquisitivity of their mind. In the quest to answer the question “what if?”, they sometimes sacrifice their mental and physical health, only realizing the effects on their state of mind once they have impacted their ability to function as a leader. We have also seen how the mental pressure on founders can cause distress to those who depend on them for their livelihood and direction.

5 min read
A fresh take on early-stage VC: Harvard Business School publishes a case study on Antler

Harvard Business School (HBS) recently published a case study about Antler’s fresh approach to early-stage venture capital. Antler Co-Founder Fridtjof Berge shares thoughts on how the case sparks discussion about the best ways to identify and support great people anywhere on earth.