By Scott Kirsner | September 22, 2016
Designing a product is one thing, entrepreneur Cory Kidd says, and “manufacturing a good durable product, with a business around it, is something else.” After earning his doctorate at MIT, Kidd started a company called Intuitive Automata in 2007. That company produced an early countertop robot called Autom that served as a weight-loss coach — and cheerleader. “We had a little bit of success, but not enough to make it a sustainable business,” he says. Now, Kidd has a startup called Catalia Health in San Francisco that is developing another stationary robot that will ask its owners questions about how they’re feeling, remind them to take medications, and nudge them to exercise, with a goal of helping people with chronic conditions take better care of themselves. He expects the bot, known as Mabu, to be available early next year, and says pharmaceutical companies and health systems will pay for the device, in the hopes that it will keep people with chronic conditions out of the hospital.