We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicolaus Radford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicolaus, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I have a very high and sustainable tolerance for risk. More often than not, risk is proportional to real impact or future upside. Risk tests you and ensures your convictions are well grounded. I’m especially motivated by how risk separates the believers from the non-believers. For when it comes time to push your chips in the middle, you better have your head on straight, or you’ll drown.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the founder and CEO of Nauticus Robotics, which began as Houston Mechatronics in 2014. We provide autonomous ocean robotic technologies to combat climate change and counteract the global impact on the world’s marine environment.
As a 20+ year robotics veteran, I spent 14 years at the Johnson Space Center and led NASA’s humanoid robotics efforts for future spaceflight missions and to the International Space Station, including both Valkyrie and Robonaut. I was also a recipient of NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal.
My work at NASA paved the way in many respects for what has become my life’s work at Nauticus Robotics — to become the most impactful ocean robotics company through the use of autonomous systems. Using technological principles our team learned from spaceflight robotics, we decided to turn our energy toward the ocean, which is fundamental to almost every aspect of human life but is rarely top of mind for people and research for which is vastly underfunded. I founded Nauticus to challenge the costly and inefficient incumbent service infrastructure of the offshore industries, enact positive change and innovation in the blue economy, and create a major impact with our autonomous robots.
I’m proud to say that Nauticus is the first pure play ocean robotics company to list on the NASDAQ as KITT – because I was a huge fan of Knight Rider! Leading the company through that period was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my professional career by a factor of ten as the market was changing rapidly under our feet. But we did it, and we were one of only a few people to actually get the deal over the line. Through the company’s life, we’ve raised over $125mm and Nauticus is making strides for ocean exploration and methods for cleaner energy production while challenging the potentially harmful, status quo methods.
In April of 2022, we announced the commenced production of the Nauticus Fleet, a first-of-its-kind robotic navy of subsea and surface robot pairs, which will be deployed to multiple operational bases around the world to service offshore industries, ranging from subsea data collection to maintenance and intervention. The Fleet was developed to significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the legacy methods which on the aggregate can be the equivalent of millions of cars per year of effective emissions. A few months ago, we announced our second-generation Aquanaut, a fully electric, untethered and autonomous subsea robot that is controlled through acoustic communication networking and underpinned by our proprietary software suite, toolKITT.
We have so many accomplishments to be proud of but still so many exciting things ahead, and I can’t wait to show them to the world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
1. Galveston is unsung and very interesting to explore. I love Galveston. I love the place for its history, tragedy, architecture, and hauntings (that’s a whole other topic.) Hey – at night go by the Menard House on 33rd and N1/2. And I dare you to walk up to the porch. Send me a pic of you doing it. I bet you can’t. House is scary AF. It’s tradition in my family as we’re leaving the city back up to Clearlake after dinner or drinks or after whatever after an evening out in Galveston, we try to stop by the house. That house at midnight is crazy scary. Generally, I love going to Galveston early in the evening, say around 5pm. Enjoy some drinks on the seawall and grab dinner as the sun is going down. Tres Leches at Rudy and Pacos is the best anywhere. Also check out Seawolf Park. You can tour an old WW2 submarine and battleship.
2. Chartering a 45-foot catamaran and sailing for the day or taking a jetski out are fantastic fun adventures in the Bay. Grabbing a bite at Pier 6 afterward is a smooth finish.
3. Sunday brunch at Toulouse on a blue sky fall day is first class.
4. I love starting at CRÚ Wine Bar in West University, grabbing oysters at State of Grace, and finishing up dinner at Mastro’s is truly entertaining.
5. Renting an old warbird WW2 fighter from Lone Star and taking a flight.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Pitch Anything – Oren Klaff, Book changed my life.
Zero to One – Peter Thiel, Standard reading for anyone in startups.
Skunkworks – Ben Rich, Inspiring journey of kicking ass.
From the Earth to the Moon – Mini series that I watched on repeat. Better than coffee.