At a restaurant chain called CaliBurger in Pasadena, California, there’s a robot in the kitchen called Flippy. Flippy makes hamburgers for the customers, many of whom take photos of it with their smartphones. The robot is developed by a startup, Miso Robotics, which is also based in Pasadena. The company is currently using the crowdfunding site SeedInvest to raise its next round of capital.
Source: Miso Robotics
With that in mind, let’s dive into the background of Miso Robotics. Founded in 2016, the company has a sophisticated AI system that lives in the cloud. It’s the brain for Flippy. In other words, the robot learns over time as it fries and grills various foods so as to optimize the heat and consistency while minimizing the waste. Consider that the technology has 12 patents pending and one issued.
Going forward, Miso Robotics has plans to expand the capabilities for Flippy. This includes enabling it to cut onions and vegetables as well as clean utensils.
However, the biggest upgrade for Flippy is ROAR or Robot on a Rail, which allows the robot to move to different stations. It will also cost $30,000 (nearly a fraction of the cost for the older version of Flippy) and will be available by the end of this year.
There’s no doubt that in order for Miso Robotics to have pulled this off, the company needed a strong team of smart software engineers and data scientists. Many of its employees have come from reputable organizations and companies like MIT, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, NASA, SpaceX and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).
Traction for Miso Robotics
According to the SeedInvest profile, Miso Robotics reported that it had doubled its revenues from 2018 to 2019 (Note: the exact numbers are not provided). What’s more, the company has signed an $11 million contract with CaliBurger to roll out Flippy to more than 50 locations across the globe.
But there are some other deals, such as for the fryers for Dodgers Stadium and Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. This was through a contract with Compass Group and Levy Restaurants.
Miso Robotics has also been successful in getting lots of media exposure. According to the company’s own estimate, there have been more than 10 billion organic impressions.
The market opportunity for Miso Robotics is certainly enormous. Consider that the global quick service restaurant industry generates $273 billion in revenues. But there are also slim margins, with labor expenses accounting for roughly a quarter of total revenues. Thus, there is likely to be rising demand for automation technologies like Flippy. The CEO of CaliGroup has said that the robot “will reduce kitchen labor expenses by over 65% while increasing efficiency and the amount of food cooked by 23%.”
Bottom Line on Flippy
Miso Robotics has already raised $14.6 million from venture capitalists and angel investors. Some of the them include CaliBurger, MAG Ventures, Levy Restaurants, Wavemaker, Fanuc and Acacia Research Corporation.
As for the crowdfunding round, Miso Robotis has raised more than $2.5 million from 1,294 investors. The pre-money valuation is $80,000.
The minimum investment is $1,493 and the security offered is a preferred stock. There are also numerous perks, depending on the amount invested. For example, if you invest between $5,000 and $9,999, you will get two Miso Robotics hats, 20 vouchers for free CaliBurgers, four free tickets to a regular season Dodgers game and a $100 CaliBurger gift card.
However, the investment has risks to consider, as is the case with any startup. For example, the business is capital intensive because of the hardware costs. There is also emerging competition in the market. Just some of the rivals include Creator, which has raised $18.4 million, and Zume, which has raised a hefty $423 million (the company is focused on the pizza market).
So before making an investment, it is essential to do your own due diligence.
Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) is an advisor and author of various books and online courses about technology, including Artificial Intelligence Basics, The Robotic Process Automation Handbook and Learn Python Super Fast. He is also the founder of WebIPO, which was one of the first platforms for public offerings during the 1990s. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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