The man behind unmanned vehicle robotics success

July 25, 2013

CEO of OCE-supported Clearpath Robotics named finalist for
Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

CEO and co-founder of Clearpath Robotics Matt Rendall was named a finalist for the Ontario Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Passion is undeniably one of the most important ingredients in starting a business. Without it no entrepreneur could survive the tireless, caffeine-filled first few years of launching a start-up. However, for a business to really thrive, an entrepreneur needs passion for both the product and managing the business. Luckily for Matt Rendall, CEO and co-founder of Clearpath Robotics, he has both these qualities in spades.

The 29-year-old Toronto native was “born to be an entrepreneur,” part of three generations in his family to start their own businesses. Growing up, he found many different outlets for his entrepreneurial spirit, such as magician-for-hire, and clothing and landscaping businesses. Rendall’s analytical mind led him to the University of Waterloo’s Mechatronics Engineering program, where he developed a fascination for building robots after entering (and winning!) a robotics competition. Once he graduated, the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program at the University of Waterloo was a “perfect fit” for Rendall, and where he wrote his thesis on starting a robotics business.

In 2009, Rendall created Clearpath Robotics with classmates Bryan Webb, Ryan Gariepy, and Pat Martinson. The team originally built robots meant to clear minefields in war-torn countries without risking human life, but this venture proved too costly at the time. It was then that Rendall and the team identified a market need for reliable, out-of-the-box robotics solutions for academic research and development, and Clearpath Robotics was born.

Rendall has since grown Clearpath Robotics into a global leader in unmanned vehicle robotics R&D, but the path to success wasn’t all smooth sailing. During Clearpath’s early days in Kitchener-Waterloo, its founders logged up to 20 hours a day, surviving on spaghetti, egg salad sandwiches, and of course, lots of coffee. The start-up received help from resources such as the Accelerator Centre, NRC-IRAP, and OCE’s Market Readiness, Technical Problem Solving and Embedded Executive programs. Fortunately, the team’s hard work and perseverance paid off.

“Seeing Clearpath Robotics grow and succeed is by far the most rewarding accomplishment in my career so far,” says Matt Rendall, CEO, Clearpath Robotics. “To see the company evolve over the last four years, and to build such an amazing team, leaves me feeling truly happy. The people of Clearpath are so important and so great; working with them is my reward.”

Clearpath Robotics turned four years old this summer, and the team has much to celebrate. In April they received international recognition when the Kingfisher M200 won Silver in the Applied Technology category at the Edison Awards. In early July, they announced an exciting new partnership with Kinova Robotics that will bring Clearpath Robotics into the advanced mobile manipulation realm.

Matt Rendall himself recently gained recognition for his outstanding entrepreneurial success, being named a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Ontario Young Entrepreneur category. Finalists are chosen according to a wide range of criteria, including vision, leadership, innovation, and personal integrity and influence.

“I am honoured and humbled for this recognition. Our accomplishments at Clearpath Robotics would not have been possible without my equally driven and passionate team and business partners. Entrepreneurship is a team sport and the amazing people at Clearpath deserve this recognition as much as I do,” says Rendall.

The Ontario winners will be announced at the Ernst & Young Awards Gala in Toronto on October 24, 2013. The overall winner will represent the region at the national gala held in Toronto on November 27, 2013.