Voice of Experience – An Interview with James Richards

On January 9, 2024, we had the pleasure of welcoming one of our esteemed users, James Richards, to the Yarbo booth at the CES event. James, in his 60s, hails from Becker, Minnesota, and works diligently in the Department Of Corrections. Having witnessed numerous innovations over his lifetime, James is a strong supporter of Yarbo since our Kickstarter days. He believes our product is a true “game-changer” for yard chores. In this article, we share an enlightening conversation we had with James, discussing his experiences with Yarbo and his thoughts on our future endeavors.

A: The first impression when I saw Yarbo, it was called snowbot. All I could think of is that it should have something to do with the task that I don’t want to do anymore or I can’t do. I have some physical limitations with arthritis. And I thought this was a product that I never thought I would see – a product that could remove snow. Plus, you can see autonomous lawnmowers out there, but nobody’s gonna do it in the snow. That’s what impressed me so much.

Q: What’s your impression of our team?

A: Their support is far none. They are the top. I’ve never once had somebody called me up and say, “I’m gonna come to your house and I’m gonna help you install or assist you with your product”. If you put in a request for support, you’re going to get an answer in a short period of time. And sometimes it’s immediately. I’ve never seen a company that works 24/7. In the daytime or if I can’t sleep, I try something and put in a question. I get a response right away. 

And I’m impressed that they listen to you. As the new versions of firmware are out, you can see the features that you’ve talked to them personally added to the product already. 

I just want people to understand, when you’re on the bleeding edge of technology, you’re far beyond the edge and you’re gonna see development happening rapidly. They need to understand that this is used in your home, but this isn’t something easy. There are a lot of factors, especially during snowy seasons. Mother Nature gives you a lot of curvals, just watch Yarbo respond to that. In addition, everybody is different. Everybody asks a lot more questions. To have the staff there being able to give the answers is really impressive to me. 

Q: You just mentioned a story between you and your neighbor. Do you want to share with us? 

A: A while back when I first started testing, we got Yarbo out there and my neighbor was kind of chuckled, because it was a lot of slush and we were learning. And he had his big Toro out there and it has extra wide sheet. He laughed at me. I said, “well, you wait and see”. 

Then a year later, when he saw we were testing two Yarbos, he came over and asked about it. I told him that was the new production. Then we got our first little bit of snow. I had Yarbo gone out, mapped and set up the plans. I was in the house and I saw he was getting the snow out without his snow blower. Yarbo was driving down and he got closer, and it stopped. And he looked at it and then he walked away, and it started up again. He looked at it and walked towards it again, and it stopped. Then he started to walk away, and it started to work. He turned around and picked up the phone and went, “are you messing with me?” 

I said, “what do you mean?!” I was watching him through my camera. My wife and I were laughing. And he said, “Because you’re in there controlling that thing. I thought you were gonna shoot snow.” I replied, “no, I’m doing nothing right now.” 

He’s out there clearing the snow, and I’m inside. Yeah, laughing.

Q: What’s the best feature that you think you like of Yarbo?

A: Right now the best feature obviously for me, which I would use it for now, is removing snow. But it’s also, I think the coolest feature is how it’s coming to doing with the snow. The technology behind it is so impressive to me. In the late 80s or early 90s, I had a setup in California where I could remotely turn on a hot tub before getting home from work. It was ahead of its time, similar to today’s smart devices that you can control with the internet. I always dreamed of having something like this, envisioning it 40 years later. As a tech enthusiast, experiencing these advancements firsthand is amazing. I’m excited for the snowblower and future attachments. Being able to ask questions and get assistance in various ways is something I look forward to. With AI advancements, it could even help with yard maintenance like fertilizing. As I get older, these technological advancements still excite me and I can’t wait for the next features to come out.

Q: What features do you expect Yarbo to have in the future?

A: If anything I’d love is to have home security. When it’s not busy, it could be watching around the neighborhood or around my house. If somebody’s at the door or around, it can let me know. I have big dogs at my house, but this would be the solution. I just think Yarbo right now is possibilities. In the future, as AI matures, I see Yarbo maturing with it. And I’m not advertising for Tesla, but they’re definitely the Tesla of the home automation or maintenance exterior of your house. They’re far above anybody else. 

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