• Student Stories: Chris Troutner

  • Engineering - Associate of Science Transfer Degree

    Drive and an entrepreneurial spirit must be hereditary in Chris Troutner’s family. The Mt. Hood Community College student will be the first in his family to graduate from college and has started his own robot business at the ripe old age of 21. Troutner was inspired by his father and grandfather, who owned and operated their own real estate and roofing companies.

    “As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to start my own company,” said Troutner. “I don’t want to work in a cubicle, I’m a horrible employee and I hate having a boss."

    An overachiever, Troutner graduated a year early from high school and is currently taking classes in MHCC’s

    Engineering Transfer program and intends to study electrical engineering at Oregon State University. Simultaneously, Troutner is starting up MyRobot, a company that sells two models of robots to hobbyists and educators.

    Troutner chose MHCC in part because of its location to his home in Welches, Ore., and because of the personalized attention from quality instructors.

    “At OSU, there’s about 300 to 500 students in a dynamics class,” said Troutner. “But at MHCC, there’s about 10 of us in the same class, which is much better for me.”

    Troutner is using his engineering expertise to develop MyRobot’s two prototypes, the Mini-T and the Model-T, which can be used for “mini-sumo” robotic competitions and as educational tools. The sumo competitions are similar to popular BattleBots matches, but do not use weapons or remote controls.

    “I was watching the trends in the industry and saw how popular robotic lawnmowers and vacuum cleaners are becoming now,” said Troutner. “Hobby robotics has really grown and I want to capitalize on that.”
    Troutner is seeking financial backers and has already had some investment success thanks to his efforts to construct the perfect business plan. Last summer, Troutner spent most of his time writing and revising the plan, although he had no idea how to go about doing it.

    “My dad and grandpa weren’t much help with that part,” said Troutner. “My grandfather grew up in an era when a handshake actually meant something and he didn’t have to deal with a lot of legalese.”

    Troutner sought help from his classmates, instructors, the Small Business Administration, the Oregon Entrepreneurial Forum and SCORE, a small business counseling service. After several drafts, Troutner believes he has created a successful plan. Although he doesn’t have a lot of venture capital invested, Troutner is hopeful MyRobot will take off in the next 12 months and make him a pioneer in the hobbyist robot market.

    “I want to retire by the time I’m 30,” said Troutner.