Hailing from an engineering and entrepreneurial family, Andrei Danescu has always been surrounded by a DIY approach to life and a mentality of “getting your hands dirty and not being afraid of the work.”
It led to resilient, Romanian-born Danescu applying for over 120 roles in Formula 1 — eventually landing a dream job at Force India — before pivoting from the pit lane into co-founding London-based robotics start-up Dexory. It is currently revolutionising the logistics industry, providing real-time warehouse insights through fully autonomous mobile robots and its visual software platform.
Danescu says the UK producer can’t keep up with demand. “Everyone tells you that product market fits hits you really hard and you are not going to be prepared for it. They weren’t lying,” he admits.
“We’ve learned so much, we’ve seen hundreds of warehouses. They are all weird and wonderful, it’s exciting to see these spaces and having the technology to solve the problem for them.”
Dexory, a full-stack start-up, designs, builds and manufactures the robots in Wallingford, Oxfordshire and from its London base, where the company aims to get customer satisfaction to 100% for its clients, as well as quelling all the day-to-day errors in running logistical operations.
Dexory has partnerships with the likes of shipping operator Maersk and order fulfillment outfit Huboo and Danescu says its real-time technology is unique for the industry.
“One of the big parts of our value proposition is the ability to create global visibility,” says Danescu. “You can see from one warehouse to another how the operations are performing, what goods they can put in, the occupancy and you can cross compare the data and metrics."
Danescu admits to being a “robot geek” from an early age. He later had a passion for cars and the combination of high-end engineering and high performance, which led him to mapping out his route into F1. He wanted to be trackside, travel with a team and land a job which allowed him to understand every part of the racing car.
After a year of applications, he eventually had two five-hour interviews in 2013 with Force India before securing a role as systems engineer. “It didn’t matter somehow,” Danescu says of his pain-staking job search. “I was sure it would require a lot of effort to get there. I mentally prepared for the fact that it was hard and I embraced the challenge.”
After a year on the road, Danescu, together with fellow co-founders Oana Jinga and Adrian Negoita, began to form ideas of how autonomous robots could give businesses the ability to collect real-time information from, initially, retail spaces and airports.
“We thought it would be very powerful to extract this information and allow businesses to understand how to serve their customers better,” says Danescu.
The business quickly pivoted during the pandemic when logistics companies started to enquire about finding better ways of managing their warehouses, which can range from 100,000 and one million sq ft. The entrepreneurial trio relished the challenge.
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Danescu says: “Having something that allows you to reconstruct the space in less than a day is very exciting, as well as the customer having the data at their fingertips.
“What we are looking to build and looking into the future is a warehouse operating system which is able to extract all the information, give a single source of truth and allows you to run any type of warehouse operation with 100% warehouse efficiency.”
Danescu, who moved over to the UK in 2009 to finish his studies at Coventry University, admits that he and Negoita still like to get hands-on with robot construction over studying Excel spreadsheets. “It’s kind of what it takes to build a business like this,” adds Danescu.
Dexory, which has raised close to £30m in investment, launched the product and software programme into the market in February 2022. Last summer, Dexory’s employees numbered 15, while now they are growing towards 100.
At over 12 metres tall, Danescu says their product is the world’s tallest autonomous robot — “unofficial, but it’s still a record,” he smiles — with plans to build a bigger version next year. Currently, it takes just under a week to make one robot, with plans to construct up to 20 per month.
“As a country we need to be investing more to inspire the younger generation to go into stem subjects, engineering and the harder mechanical type roles,” Danescu admits.
“As a scale up, you can’t afford to train people from scratch. You need to hit the ground running and need to find the talent to train the next generation. From an industry point of view, the UK is one of the best places to be based from a global perspective.”
With its 3D-scanning robots setting industry standards, Danescu believes that the human workforce won’t be affected. “Customer expectations have increased,” he says, “and what we are seeing in the market is not a displacing of jobs, but creating the opportunity of having a better working environment without having to stretch the existing working hours to the maximum.
“If you look at the speed in which warehouses are being built, it’s virtually impossible to find skilled labour to keep up with the demand. How do you bridge that gap? The way we look at it is by bridging the right technology to allow you to focus better on the workforce, who can do a better job.”
Behind the brand: CEO Andrei Danescu on...
Building a hybrid environment
"Keeping everyone in sync, everyone has the right information and access to it quickly has been one of the bigger challenges. It’s never too early to start your internal communication efforts. It needs to be a structured and deliberate effort to make sure that everyone gets it, understands the bigger picture and that it becomes inspiring for everyone.
We make sure we have regular cadence for company wide meetings, that we repeat the message, to create the right forms for people to ask questions as some are more introvert or extrovert and they might not want to be public about it. That's really important."
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