Yesterday (Wednesday 1st June) the eMoov CEO Russell Quirk took part in the Virgin Media VOOM Business Pitchathon.
The world record attempt saw some 160 entrepreneurs pitch their business to a panel of expert judges over the course of 29 hours, for a place in the next round and the chance to secure a share of the final prize money.
Each entrant was allowed to bring one prop and the event saw everything from martial arts displays, scientific experiments, gigantic teddy bears and one other special appearance that caused quite a stir.
What may you ask? Or who to be more precise?
Well, Russell’s prop came in the form of a fully functioning robot. The eMoov robot rose to fame after going viral as a result of an April Fool’s day prank by eMoov in 2015. The prank being that eMoov were developing a fleet of robots to replace the traditional estate agent on the ground and to further innovate the property selling process – something we are experts in.
However, after his five minutes of fame, Robert the Robot was decommissioned and has been gathering dust ever since…. until yesterday.
We wiped him down, charged him up and took him with us to help Russell pitch the eMoov ethos. Not only was the pitch a resounding success but so was Robert, being stopped to pose for endless selfies and making the VOOM press shot for the papers.
Much like the Stig, Robert is a man of mystery. He seldom speaks and is surrounded by an air of intrigue and secrecy which always seems to make him popular with the public.
But who is Robert the eMoov Robot? After a number of requests from the public, we’ve decided to reveal the man behind the mask.
Robert the Robot is in fact, eMoov’s very own Johnathan Palmer.
Jonathan joined the company in 2015 as Client Service Manager in our expert sales team and quickly embodied the eMoov ethos of providing outstanding customer service as standard. However, just two weeks into the role, he auditioned for the part of Robert the Robot and was a no-brainer for the role after busting out his robot dance. We interviewed the man behind the mask to get his thoughts on his rise to fame and what life as Robert the Robot is actually like.
How did it feel getting your big break on the internet as Robot for our April’s fools prank?
At first, I was a little sceptical as the only time I had done the robot before was on nights out on the dance floor, however as soon as I got in the suit I came into my own and was able to fully embrace the role.
How did you feel when you got the call to dust off the suit and hit London for VOOM?
I felt excited and nervous, the thought of me doing something wrong and messing up the whole pitch was in the back of my head. But I always relish the chance to get back into the suit so of course I answered the call.
Do you think you being there made a difference in terms of the buzz and social activity generated?
I feel like people loved the idea of having a robot as a prop. It brought a lot of attention as people were curious as to what I represented and I saw a lot of smiles. I think in an event as long as the Pitchathon with so many people bringing their own idea to the table, it was important we stood out from the crowd and the suit definitely did that!
How comfortable is the suit and on a scale of one to ten how close were you to passing out from the heat?
The suit is comfortable for the first 10 minutes; after that, it becomes a home-made sauna. So I would give it a 7 (10 being uncomfortable). Towards the end of the day, I became a bit concerned about the lack of air and the heat, however, because of my training on how to adapt to the suits climate before the day, I was OK.
Will you be looking to resurrect your secret identity on a more regular basis?
I hope so, there is nothing more satisfying than taking off the sweaty suit at the end of the day knowing how many lives I have changed for the better.
Which do you prefer – selling houses or being the eMoov mascot?
Don’t get me wrong it’s always an amazing feeling when you finalise a sale because you know how much that news means to the home seller and buyer alike. That said, nothing comes close to the euphoria and buzz of the public spotlight and for that reason it has to be the eMoov mascot. Plus I know if it were to become a full-time occupation, there are plenty of capable hands to cover my position in the company and so I could rest easy in that knowledge.
Any advice you would give to budding robot wanna be’s and how they can one day live the dream and be a robot?
I didn’t choose the life, the life chose me and it doesn’t come easy. However, words of advice to anyone looking to give it a go would be to wear minimal clothing underneath your desired suit and not to drink too much water before, you never know how long you are needed for.Jonathan Palmer