On a mission to rid the world of dull, dirty and dangerous jobs, The Kobi Company is seeking to be "top of mind for companies trying to develop a self-driving device. Many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) know they need to bring a fully autonomous version of their currently human-operated devices to the market, but often lack the deep robotics expertise to do so. The Kobi Company offers a 'plug-and-play' robotics brain that turns any device into a fully autonomous robot." says Steven Waelbers, CTO and co-founder of The Kobi Company.
This push for automation is increasing on a global scale due to a tight job market, where it's impossible to find personnel for dull, dirty and dangerous jobs. This is the case for The Kobi Company's first sector of focus, namely the lawn and garden industry, where professional gardeners have to turn down assignments because they cannot find adequate staff. To help it find the personnel it needs, The Kobi Company turned to PwC for help.
The firm's primary goal is to go into mass production with its lawn and garden solutions and then to expand its robotics expertise to other sectors, such as cleaning, warehousing, construction and agriculture. For that, it must attract and retain very specific skill sets and it’s competing with major established players for the talent it requires.
"Our solutions require very deep technical skills. Basically, we’re making devices self-driving so we’re competing with very well-known brands doing the very same thing," explains Steven Waelbers, although The Kobi Company doesn’t offer autonomous devices that would be found on public roadways, in the air or on water. "And big brands of course have deep pockets so we need to use all means at our disposal to be an employer of choice," he adds.
The Kobi Company competes for top talent by not only offering a workplace where curious minds are challenged on a daily basis while having fun, but one where "people's achievements are not just acknowledged, but tangible. When you work in a big firm, you may design a small part of a device that’s then further developed by others. With The Kobi Company, you can directly see the changes you make to how our robots operate. You’re involved throughout the project," Steven Waelbers enthuses.
But he’s well aware of the need to also be an attractive employer from a financial viewpoint.
"PwC's our go-to partner for specialist international tax-related advice"
"PwC worked with us to set up an effective stock options plan to reward our people for the real value they’re contributing to our growth. They also helped us work out tax-beneficial packages that would help us attract the deep technical skills we need, from all around the world," notes Steven Waelbers.
This includes the transfer of copyrights in a tax-optimal way, obtaining employment cost-savings for research and development (R&D) activities, global mobility management and expat remuneration. Steven Waelbers goes on, "as a result, PwC's become our go-to partner for specialist international tax-related advice for talent as well as guidance on how to set up the legal & tax relationship between our Belgian and US Kobi entities."
With its 11 employees coming from the four corners of the globe, The Kobi Company needs help to make sure work permits and other legal requirements when people move countries are in order, a topic with which PwC has extensive experience and expertise and a global network to reach out to.
"With one of our team members, we were unsure of how to deal with the change of location from a tax perspective. PwC were able to call experts from the PwC firm in his home country and get us an answer in days. We'd never have been able to achieve that on our own," Steven Waelbers says. "For a small company like The Kobi Company, that's a huge value add. As we continue to grow and expand, I can see PwC's international network being of continual benefit," he adds.
Our work with The Kobi Company confirms that with our expansive international knowledge of tax systems and requirements, we’re ideally placed to help start-ups and scale-ups design attractive remuneration packages and identify and take advantage of government subsidies available to make sure you’re able to attract the skills you need to grow, on an international scale.
Partner, Entrepreneurial & Private Business, Culture & Innovation, PwC Belgium, PwC Belgium
Tel: +32 475 89 16 21