We don’t trek out to the Charlestown-Somerville line often. So when we do, you know it’s for a compelling reason. Most recently, that reason was to take a tour of the office space belonging to Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF).
This past February, we spotlighted the startup as it came out of stealth mode to present its first product: a cargo-carrying robot named Gita. As we’ve explained before, Gita is like a car trunk that follows you wherever you go – only without the car part and with added adorableness. (“We’ve had people try to hug it a lot,” Sasha Hoffman, COO of PFF, told me at their Roland Street space.)
Now that the company, which is a subsidiary of Piaggio Group, has introduced Gita to the public, it’s going full-speed ahead with expanding its team. PFF now has more than 30 employees and is looking to hire even more. According to Hoffman, it wants to fill 20 new open positions.
And that’s not the only thing PFF is up to. Hoffman said, “We’re about to deploy Gita to our pilot customers – not concurrently, but one after another.” She added that the startup has deliberately selected pilot customers in different industries, so the venture can learn how the robot navigates through various environments – from sidewalks to elevators.
“We need to see it in different use cases to learn from them and iterate on our technology … We need to see the bounds in which the robot can operate and what our customers need from it.”
This way, PFF will be able to prioritize its efforts to iterate, first addressing what its customers require. Otherwise, Hoffman said, the venture might get bogged down in all of the potential adjustments it could make and would never get a finished product out. Which would defeat the whole purpose of PFF.
“We weren’t started as a think tank,” Hoffman told me. “We were started as an actual company. [Piaggio] gave us funding, but beyond that, we’re expected to roll out a product and generate revenue.”
Here are photos I took of the venture’s space, which is part-office, part-machine shop. (The latter component is the reason new employees receive noise canceling headphones in their welcome baskets.) And expect to spot other Piaggio vehicles peppered throughout the images of PFF’s workplace.