“Revolutionizing Commercial Kitchens: Chef Robotics Secures $14.75 Million in Funding”

In the past several years, the kitchen has increasingly become a focal point for the world of automation. Others, including Zume Robotics, have been less successful – the pizza robot firm shut its doors last year after attempting a major pivot into Earth-conscious food packaging. The new cash infusion follows a January 2021 raise of $7.7 million, bringing the total funding up to $22.5 million. MaC Venture Capital, MFV Partners, Interwoven Ventures and Alumni Ventures joined existing backers, Construct Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Promus Ventures and Red and Blue Ventures. Chef isn’t revealing specific sales figures, only saying that it has “robots at food companies in five cities around the US and Canada” including “Fortune 500 food companies.” Bhageria also tells TechCrunch that it has quadrupled “recurring revenue from 2022 to 2023,” though, again, nothing more specific than that.

Over the past several years, there has been a significant rise in the integration of automation in the kitchen. One of the prominent players in this space is Miso, whose “Flippy” hamburger cooking arm has become a staple in chain restaurants such as White Castle. However, not all companies have been as successful as Miso – one example being Zume Robotics, which had to shut down after attempting to pivot into eco-friendly food packaging.

A relatively new player in this industry, Chef Robotics, emerged in 2019. Their timing for entering the market could not have been better, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic leading to shut downs and labor shortages in industries like fast food. This week, the San Francisco-based company announced a successful funding round, raising a total of $22.5 million, including both equity and debt. Among the investors are MaC Venture Capital, MFV Partners, Interwoven Ventures, Alumni Ventures, Construct Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Promus Ventures, and Red and Blue Ventures.

The majority of the capital will be used to execute Chef Robotics’ go-to-market strategy, which is centered around Robotics as a Service (RaaS). This model has gained a lot of traction in the world of industrial automation, as the upfront cost of large robots can be too high for many companies to afford. In addition, Chef Robotics plans to expand its team by hiring engineers and technicians; currently, they have a headcount of around 30.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Rajat Bhageria, founder of Chef Robotics, explains that their focus is on food assembly rather than just cooking. The company’s software, ChefOS, plays a crucial role in driving the robot arm’s decisions. Bhageria notes, “Food is highly dimensional, and its properties can vary depending on factors such as cooking method, temperature, and even who is handling it. To tackle this, Chef utilizes various sensors and cameras to gather data and train models that help the robot manipulate a diverse range of ingredients.”

Chef Robotics places a strong emphasis on the software and AI aspect of their product, as most of their hardware components are purchased from third-party providers. This approach aligns with the philosophy of many roboticists who believe that if existing solutions can fulfill the requirements, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

While specific sales figures are not disclosed, Chef Robotics reveals that their robots are currently being used by food companies in five cities across the US and Canada, including Fortune 500 companies. Bhageria also shares that their recurring revenue has quadrupled from 2022 to 2023, a trend that is expected to continue.

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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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