“Aniai Introduces Revolutionary $12M Burger-Cooking Robot to Restaurants”

Aniai, a startup that has built a burger-grilling robot, Alpha Grill, said today it has raised $12 million. “Burger chains hire six to eight kitchen staff per shift to grill burgers,” Aniai CEO Gunpil Hwang said. If the user’s patty does not meet its cooking recipes, specifications and requirements, Alpha Grill promptly notifies the cooking staff to ensure quality control. It has also been testing Alpha Grill with burger chains in the U.S. since last year. Other companies in this space include Miso Robotics, which is behind Flippy, a burger-flipping robot; Botinkit, a cooking robot maker in China; and Chef Robotics in San Francisco.

Aniai, a startup that has developed the revolutionary Alpha Grill, a burger-grilling robot, announced today that it has successfully raised $12 million in funding. With this round, they have raised a total of $15 million, which will be utilized for launching their first manufacturing facility, Factory One, in South Korea. Additionally, the funds will also be allocated towards deploying their advanced cloud-based AI software platform specifically designed for Alpha Grill, aptly named Alpha Cloud. This is a significant step towards Aniai’s goal of revolutionizing the restaurant industry with cutting-edge technology.

The adoption of robots in the restaurant industry has been gaining popularity as it offers a solution to many pain points faced by restaurants, such as labor shortages and rising wage issues. Through the use of robotics, restaurants can significantly reduce labor costs, with a potential of 30% to 70% savings. Additionally, it has been reported that more than 80% of restaurant positions can be replaced with robots, according to a research report.

“Burger chains typically require six to eight kitchen staff per shift to grill burgers,” shared Aniai CEO Gunpil Hwang. “However, with Alpha Grill, only one staff member is needed to operate the entire burger-grilling process.”

The New York-based startup is all set to launch Factory One this year, in order to meet the increasing demand for Alpha Grill. They have already received around 500 pre-orders and are expected to start delivery in the first quarter of 2024. The manufacturing facility has the capacity to produce over 1,000 robots annually. Alpha Grill, which was first introduced in 2022, can effortlessly cook up to 200 patties per hour, or eight patties simultaneously, with the assistance of human staff who place them on the grill.

The unparalleled cloud-based AI software and real-time vision sensor allow Alpha Grill to perceive its environment, identify the color, temperature, shape, and quality of the patties, and monitor them closely. In case the cooking staff’s patty does not meet the required cooking recipes, specifications, or quality standards, Alpha Grill promptly notifies them to ensure quality control.

TechCrunch was informed by Hwang that the startup is in the process of developing their second product, Alpha Kitchen. Slated to be launched in 2025, Alpha Kitchen will completely automate the burger-making process, from cooking patties and toasting buns to dispensing vegetables and other ingredients. This will be a game-changer for the fast-food industry, significantly enhancing efficiency and reducing costs.

Aniai currently caters to seven clients, including well-known fast-food burger chains in South Korea, such as CJ Freshway, BAS Burger, and DownTowner. They have also been testing Alpha Grill with burger chains in the United States since last year. With the latest capital, the company aims to expand their operations in the US and South Korea at a much faster pace.

Aniai is a part of the rapidly growing kitchen automation industry, which includes other notable companies such as Miso Robotics, known for their burger-flipping robot, and Botinkit, a leading cooking robot manufacturer in China. Chef Robotics in San Francisco is also a key player in this industry.

The funding for this round was led by InterVest, along with new investors SV Investment, Ignite Innovation from the UK, and a previous supporter, Capstone Partners.

The startup was founded in 2020 and currently has a team of 30 employees as of December 2023.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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