SoftBank-backed Bear Robotics Raises $81 Million for Waitering Robot Rollout


SoftBank-backed food service robot startup Bear Robotics has raised $81 million (roughly Rs. 616 crore) in a Series B funding round with investors that include Cleveland Avenue, a venture capital firm founded by a former McDonald’s chief executive.

Other investors include South Korean private equity firm IMM and telco KT Corp, the startup’s co-founder and chief operating officer Juan Higueros told Reuters, declining to disclose the firm’s latest valuation.

Bear Robotics has shipped more than 5,000 of its Servi food service robots, which carry food and drink between kitchen and tables on layers of trays, and partnered with industry players such as Denny’s, Chili’s, and Pepsi.

The California-based startup aims to expand beyond its home market and Japan and South Korea, where it has partnered with SoftBank and KT respectively, into Europe and Southeast Asia amid industry labour shortages.

SoftBank led the startup’s Series A round and has shifted to reselling robots from third parties and formed a joint venture with household goods maker Iris Ohyama in Japan.

Bear Robotics charges a $999 (roughly Rs. 76,000) monthly fee for Servi in the US, which gives the robot a running cost of around $2.75 (roughly Rs. 210) per hour, Higueros said.

The startup plans to roll out two new robots this year, one that can detect air quality on the move and another that can carry deliveries from the lobby to upper floors of a building via the elevator.

Bear Robotics makes its products in South Korea, with the company relying on its head of manufacturing, who previously worked for Taiwan’s Foxconn, to help navigate the “tough to manage” supply chain pressures, Higueros said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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