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Marine veteran turned business owner hires fellow vets to help with groundbreaking OC tech company


Veteran Mike LeBlanc is doing what he can to help people with similar military backgrounds get and keep jobs.

When it seems like so much is steering towards artificial intelligence, his Irvine-based company Cobalt Robotics is on the cutting edge of that technology.

"Our principal product is a robot that is decked out with all kinds of sensors, so 360 degree cameras, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, microphones," said LeBlanc.

It's almost like a modern day security officer. LeBlanc's professional journey started in the Middle East.

He served three tours, including two combat tours, as a Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer.

He hasn't forgotten where he came from and now, as a business owner, he's making sure fellow veterans aren't left behind.

"They've seen things that almost nobody else has to see and when they come back into the civilian world, they have to deal with that," said LeBlanc. "But at Cobalt, rather than looking at that with fear, having them treat that like it's a problem, we treat that as a superpower."

He said 30% of his workforce are former military members.

"When we have marines and soldiers and sailors come here, we have the same expectations that we would have of them that we would in a combat situation," said LeBlanc.

That hiring focus is part of a program under the Department of Defense to help train and employ more veterans.

"The skills you get from being in the Marine Corps almost are taught in a different way that you can't really receive in a public university or setting," said Benjamin Daniel Hernandez.

"I think it's kind of a neat environment when you have shared experiences. Even though we're different branches of the military, the shared experience is something that counts," said Robert Crosby Jr.

LeBlanc has no doubt that he's made the right hires.

"Put them in the job and we know they're going to come through. As long as they have mission and the intent behind it, they're going to come through for us," he said.

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