One of the most interesting things about tracking food robotics startups in recent years is keeping track of all the different tasks that companies want to automate, from prep to delivery. Bay Area-based Bear is not the only company trying to bring a robot to the counter, but it has become one of the most famous in recent years.
Bear has had some success with recent rollouts, including trying to bring their system to more restaurants in Japan. This push comes from the SoftBank lender, as well as the labor shortage in the country. Japan has long seen robots as a way to support business for its growing population, and the pandemic has only reinforced those needs. Here in the United States, Bear has partnered with Chili’s, Compass Group, Denny’s, Marriott and Pepsi.
The business model has clearly earned a lot of credibility from SoftBank, which has become even more optimistic about robotics lately and is leading its 2020 Series A. Today, new investor IMM joined existing investors like Cleveland Avenue to lead the $81 million Series B. This latest round brings Bear’s total funding to approximately $117 million.
The bear is quite wary of the topic of full automation. The company has long positioned itself as an extension of the restaurant rather than a replacement for human waiters. No doubt, because the machines are more like mobile tables than robot waiters delivering orders from point A to point B.
“Having opened my own restaurant a few years ago, I learned firsthand how difficult it can be,” Founder and CEO John Ha said in a press release. “I thought there must be a way to automate some of these repetitive tasks without getting lost. That’s why we created Servi. It is a solution aimed at improving the experience of customers, employees and operators, while others are trying to fully automate the work, we are trying to improve the future of work for the stakeholders in this industry who continue to work every day. ,
In all, Bear says his Servi robot has delivered 28 million meals over a total run of 335,000 miles.