We didn’t invent automated systems, but we democratized them. Because technology doesn’t change the world until you make it accessible to those who need it most. Automation is a necessity, not a luxury. And our mission is to continue the American legacy of innovation by making it your reality. Our team has deployed over 500 systems, and our 100+ System Integrator partners have more than 5,000 deployments under their belts, making us the ideal partner for any automation job
Revolutionizing the Automation industry is no easy task, but we have the team to do it
Saman has had a passion for robotics and entrepreneurship since childhood. By age 10 he had disassembled and (often unsuccessfully) reassembled every piece of electronics in his parents house. Saman started his first company at age 14 building custom computers and office networking, and has been enthusiastically finding ways to bring technology to real-world applications ever since.
Prior to founding Formic, Saman was a founding partner of Baidu Ventures, a $600 million technology venture capital fund, Saman also founded Comet Labs, an early stage AI and robotics incubator and investment fund. Across his investment career, Saman has invested and sat on the boards of more than 30 AI & robotics companies. Before becoming an investor, Saman built and sold an ecommerce company and an online video company, and has worked in various roles at companies like Microsoft, Honeywell, and Verizon.
Saman has an interdisciplinary engineering degree from The Cooper Union in NYC, and an MBA from a joint program between Tsinghua University and the MIT Sloan School of Businesses. Outside of Formic, Saman still actively advises and supports other startup founders, does community service and youth mentorship in his neighborhood, and is raising a newborn son.
Co-Founder/VP of Robotics
Misa Ilkhechi leads our sales and engineering efforts at Formic. Misa works with our customers to evaluate their operations and identify applications with the highest potential to automate. He holds a BS in Mechanical engineering from University of Illinois at Chicago and works out of our Chicago office.
Prior to joining Formic, Misa has worked in a variety of sales and engineering roles for companies such as Bosch, John Deere, Ametek and Universal Robots. He has had an active role in consulting manufacturing companies on how to improve efficiency and productivity through automation.
Outside Formic Misa enjoys spending time with family, traveling and cooking. Misa is an avid Juventus fan (Forza Juve!), and follows European soccer closely.
Treasurer & VP of Finance
Jack Wagler is responsible for the treasury and financial operations aspects of Formic—across funding, legal, credit and servicing. Jack lives in Charlotte, NC and attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison (with two years of study abroad in Germany and the UK), receiving a JD in law, a MSc in International Business and a BA, with a double major in Political Science and German.
Throughout his 28-year career in specialty finance, Jack has always focused on the innovative and enigmatic—from startup companies, to new market sectors and off-the-run asset types. Jack’s experience ranges from, (1) being the founding CEO of a spin-off financial services technology company, to (2) leading the commercial equipment, operating asset, transportation leasing, and structured tax teams in Wachovia Securities’ Structured Asset Finance group, to (3) founding and leading the Specialty Finance Advisory practice at Ernst & Young, which provided strategy, implementation and funding advisory services to independent and captive specialty finance companies.
From 2013 to 2019 Jack served as a volunteer Board Member, Treasurer and Vice Chair for two charter schools—a nationally recognized gifted-and-talented school and a start-up STEM high school.
Application Engineering Manager
Kyle Kidwell leads the team responsible for assessing automation applications and applying the proper resources to provide a solution. He works with customers to gather requirements and identifies which equipment and partner will be the best fit for developing a turn key solution. Kyle acquired a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering with a focus in Mechatronics from Colorado State University-Pueblo, which included an exchange year spent at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. He currently lives and works out of Chicago, Illinois.
Prior to joining Formic, Kyle served as an Applications Engineer in multiple companies focused in factory automation. At Keyence, he was responsible for driving sales forward in the Machine Vision Technology Group, through managing marketing campaigns, providing application development support and training employees on product application. He also played an active role in the launching and training of new products that changed the landscape of the industry. After Keyence, Kyle went on to work with Universal Robots as an Application Engineer. Through his knowledge and expertise in factory automation, Kyle enabled customers across a variety of industries to integrate collaborative robotic automation within their production environments.
Outside of work, Kyle enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and spending time outdoors hiking and fishing. He is originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where his love of the mountains and outdoors began.
Application Engineering Manager
Ben Thompson is part of the Chicago, IL team and is spearheading the development of Formic’s IoT framework in addition to working with the Applications Engineering team to evaluate and implement effective robotic solutions for our customers.
Ben spent four years enlisted in the United States Marine Corps prior to earning his B.S. in Technical Systems Management from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Ben’s work ethic and passion for engineering landed him as a finalist for the Illinois Innovation Prize – an award administered by the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering to the most innovative student on campus. Directly prior to joining Formic, Ben was working at a Systems Integrator for FANUC Robotics and specialized in research and design, collaborative, and vision-guided robotics. Ben also brings valuable experience from successful early-stage technology companies ranging from autonomous off-road vehicles to agricultural testing devices.
Outside of work, he enjoys fishing, spending time outdoors with his girlfriend and their two pitbulls, and “tinkering” with his electronics. Also, as a Purple Heart recipient, Ben is passionate about finding new and innovative ways to help other veterans returning home.
Business Operations and Strategy Lead
Malcolm Kerr works across go-to-market strategy, sales operations, marketing, and business operations. He is a recent transplant to the Bay Area, and holds a BA in Sociology and Economics from Colby College, where he spent a semester abroad in Cape Town and ran the campus radio station.
Prior to joining Formic, Malcolm worked in Corporate Strategy, Go-To-Market, and Sales Enablement at Yext in New York City. He had an active role in many business transformation initiatives and product launches as the company scaled rapidly and went public, including but not limited to market research, product marketing, beta programs, and competitive analysis.
Outside of work, Malcolm enjoys playing soccer, camping, watching basketball, music (both listening to, and creating), traveling, and investing. He is originally from Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is a die-hard but constantly disappointed Timberwolves fan.
Business Development Manager
Ahmad works out of Chicago and is responsible for supporting our business development and sales strategies. He is on the front line when it comes to engaging with clients and scoping for potential applications.
Prior to joining Formic, Ahmad spent a year working in content advertising sales for a small media firm in Chicago, specifically in the healthcare industry. There he worked alongside Director level and above executives to learn about their industry expertise and produce an article to be featured in the publication American Healthcare Leader.
Ahmad lives in Schaumburg, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where he moved back to after completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2020 where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with a Minor in Leadership Studies.
Outside of his passion for robots, Ahmad can be found weightlifting or practicing his Jiu Jitsu. He hopes to soon join Kaustubh in the 1,000 pounds club (total weight for squat, bench, and deadlift).
Bryan McClelland is focused on sales growth by helping customers understand that Formic’s robotics-as-a-service model makes automation implementation both easy and affordable.
With vast experience in manufacturing processes and automation, Bryan identifies projects well suited for robotic automation and develops concepts for successful implementation along with the Formic Application Engineering team.
Originally from Detroit, MI, Bryan has lived in Charleston, SC for 20 years. He has earned degrees in Material Science Engineering (B.S) and Law (J.D), and is a Licensed Professional Engineer (P.E) - Mechanical Engineering.
Bryan spent the last three decades in manufacturing roles that span engineering, sales, R&D, legal, and leadership. While working for the likes of Chrysler, Phillips 66, Loctite, Cummins, ND Industries, and Fanuc he has managed a variety of projects, teams, and sales funnels upwards of $1B. He also owned his own 25 person manufacturing facility for 10 years before returning to sales leadership in automation.
For the last eight years Bryan has been concepting, selling, engineering, building, and programming robotic automation systems as a Regional Sales Director at Fanuc and as a Partner in a Robotic Integration Group, servicing the Defense, Life Sciences, Automotive, Packaging, and Chemicals industries with systems for inspection, deburring, machine tending, packaging, and palletizing.
Outside of Formic Bryan and his wife enjoy entertaining, cooking, travel, and outdoor activities with their dog Bo.
Justin works out of the Chicago office and is responsible for finding new and innovative ways to help customers achieve their productivity, profitability, and growth goals. He has extensive experience in pairing customers with the most up-to-date solutions available.
Prior to joining Formic, Justin worked at EnerSys for 7 years, selling industrial batteries and chargers, specializing in pairing the right products for each end-user’s needs. While at EnerSys, he qualified for two amazing reward trips, was tapped as the Central Area NexSys Ion Champion, and the Chicago District Sales Engineer of the Year. He has a degree in Business Marketing from Purdue University. Prior to EnerSys, he was named as the architect on a project that was nominated for a Friends of the Chicago River award.
Justin lives in Homewood, a suburb of Chicago, and enjoys his time outside of work spending time with his wife and three children, golfing, and electric skateboarding (often times together). He spent many years volunteering with Homewood Baseball and Softball, both coaching and administrating many teams. When you meet Justin, ask him how close he got to seeing the Cubs play the world series at Wrigley Field!
Juan L Rodriguez works as a Sales Director covering the OH/MI/IN regions, and is responsible for managing sales and product development activities. He has extensive experience in manufacturing and automation, and has covered many types of applications throughout his career.
Juan brings a solid 18 years of experience in working with robots to the table. Most of his career has been on the integration side programming multiple robot brands across many industries. While at Crum, Juan engineered and led the engineering of custom robotic solutions that resulted in published articles by T&W Stamping, Universal Robots, Welding Productivity, and Industrial Machinery Digest for automating challenging sensitive welding tasks that delivered a 40% efficiency increase. He received his B.S. of Electrical Engineering Technology at The University of Toledo.
While not working, he enjoys spending time with his son Nicandro and daughter Vanessa, attending sporting events, working out, and home improvement projects.
Robotics Application Engineer
Jason Prince is part of Formic’s Application Engineering team and works out of Menomonee Falls, WI. He works with customers and vendors in the Milwaukee area to determine and implement turnkey automation solutions.
Jason has a Process Engineering degree from Moraine Park Technical College and over 19 years of experience in the manufacturing industry. Prior to joining Formic, Jason worked at J.W. Speaker Corporation in Germantown, WI. He started in assembly and held many other positions within the company before starting his engineering career in 2008. Jason had been designing, building and programming automated systems as an internal integrator at J.W. Speaker since 2014.
Outside of work, you can find Jason smoking the most delicious meat on his pellet grill. He also enjoys practicing Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, lifting weights, and spending time with his daughter and dog.
Diane is fresh out of college from the University of Michigan and serving Formic in the Marketing department to help find innovative ways to keep our customers informed about Formic. She hopes to use her expertise to expand Formic’s customer base and to elevate our marketing campaign.
Diane graduated with a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Cognitive Science and Philosophy with a minor in Linguistics. In addition to her studies, she has actively participated in sustainability groups such as GRID Alternatives and bio-research labs. She also previously worked at BDP Entertainment Group, a production company based in Los Angeles, California.
Alongside her work, Diane likes to spend her free time listening to music and podcasts, more specifically “Invisibilia” by NPR. She is always either recommending a new song or a new movie.
Senior Credit Officer
Gary Young is responsible for the credit and servicing aspects of Formic. This includes credit, documentation, collections and working closely with our third-party servicing provider. He serves as a liaison with senior management to assist on matters beyond his primary responsibilities and works closely with the Credit Officer to develop a unified approach to processing the opportunities for Formic.
Gary lives in Brentwood, Tennessee and is a graduate of Georgia Southern University, where he received his BA degree in finance.
Prior to joining Formic, Gary spent over 40 years working in all facets of commercial lending and leasing, primarily in management roles overseeing multi-billion dollar operations. He co-founded FCC Equipment Financing in 1996 and was Executive Vice President. That business was subsequently sold to Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation where Gary continued as Credit Manager for the western United States.
Gary enjoys spending time with his wife, children and four grandchildren. He is actively involved on HOA committees.
Product Engineering Team
Kaustubh Bhalerao brings over 20 years of experience in software development including design of web platforms, embedded systems, IoT and scientific computing. He is responsible for building the data and analytic infrastructure to monitor robot performance, uptime and utilization for Formic’s fleet of robots.
Kaustubh holds a PhD in Engineering from The Ohio State University and was a tenured professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2005 to 2020. As faculty, he pioneered several nationally- and internationally-recognized projects in the areas of bionanotechnology, informatics and instrumentation. In 2015 he started Soil Diagnostics, Inc., to commercialize some of his research in software and automation.
At Soil Diagnostics, Kaustubh and his wife Jessie develop customized software, hardware, IoT and analytical products chiefly for the food, agricultural, environmental and automation-related industries.
Kaustubh lives in Champaign, IL along with Jessie and their four children. He enjoys studying ancient Sanskrit literature and is an avid weightlifter with over 1000 lbs total on the squat, deadlift and bench press.
Marketing and Operations Intern
Will works as a marketing intern and is responsible for driving Formic’s digital growth. To accomplish this, he spends the majority of his time building advertising campaigns through various platforms. He is currently working remotely from New York City.
Will is a recent graduate of Colby College, where he majored in Global Studies and minored in Economics. Prior to joining Formic, Will worked at ResumeJesus, an online resume-writing consultancy.
While not working, he can often be found skiing, watching movies or complaining about various New York sports teams.
The Formic Team has built and deployed hundreds of robots across a range of industries
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