Rigorous / Company Spotlight
A look into one of VT's most exciting robotics companies.
Founded in 2020, the Williston-based company creates robots that elevate the quality of work for those who need it most.
Williston-based Rigorous Technology is not your typical robotics company.
Co-founded by Colin Riggs and Diane Abruzzini Riggs, the company is on a mission to build robots for small to medium-sized manufacturers, which can lack the resources to effectively manage automation internally.
Rigorous was founded in 2020 when Colin, who always wanted to start a robotics company, secured two manufacturing contracts as an independent consultant. One contract was for a slate manufacturer, the other for a research vessel tasked to find sunken warships.
Colin teamed up with his co-founder and now-wife, Diane, who had recently earned an MBA from the University of Vermont before working several local jobs in venture capital. The genesis of Rigorous involved a close partnership with the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET), which offered support and guidance.
“VCET was there as a sounding board,” said Colin, who is the company’s CEO. “They’re very communicable and understand this big vision that we have.”
Rigorous’ first full system client was Accurate Box Company, a fourth-generation family-owned business in New Jersey. Accurate Box sought a robotic solution to streamline their most labor-intensive process, and turned to Rigorous for a custom-made solution.
Rigorous’s partnership with Accurate Box was their first experience working from concept to deployment, alleviating workers from grueling, repetitive tasks. The company designed the “Box Hopper,” a robotic system streamlining the movement of 8,000+ pounds of boxes each hour.
“There are some ideas out there that automation can be bad for jobs, but a lot of the jobs we’re replacing are really, really bad jobs for people,” said Diane, who leads business operations and design at Rigorous. “Our biggest fans were the operators that didn’t have to do that task anymore.”
After successfully deploying the first Box Hopper, Rigorous looked to productize the robotic system. To broaden their reach and address bottlenecks for similar manufacturers, Rigorous turned to VCET for a capital raise.
“They were the first institutional commitment. We set our terms with them that everybody else followed,” said Diane. “Dave is ‘Chief Boost Patrol’, when he is communicating about our business to other people. And that brought other investors to the table to close out the round.”
Rigorous’s growth has been substantial, achieving 100%+ growth every year since its founding. The company has expanded its clientele, both inside and outside the state.
Looking ahead, Rigorous plans to launch a number of new products including client-facing software. The RGS Control Center will display high-end data analytics and facilitate remote maintenance for clients.
“If we can launch this next product successfully, we see pretty steep growth coming for us,” said Riggs. “It’s our software platform that’s going to take us to that next level. And so it’s a very strategic path that we’ve laid out from the beginning.”
Rigorous has steadily grown to include 11 employees, a number of whom were referred by Dave Bradbury of VCET.
These accomplishments underscore a busy and successful 12 months for Diane and Colin, who are not merely building robots — they are shaping the future of work in the manufacturing sector.
“As we see more people adopting robotics around here, it’s really exciting because our mission to increase access to automation… is really showing out,” said Diane. “Working with local Vermont manufacturers has been a really nice point of success as well.”