- Simbe Robotics has raised $28 million in a Series B equity financing round led by venture capital firm Eclipse, the autonomous aisle-scanning vehicle developer announced Thursday.
- The California startup plans to tap the funds to expand its global customer base, add staff and help retailers take better advantage of data they capture from shoppers, Simbe co-founder and CEO Brad Bogolea said in an interview.
- Simbe has spent the past several years working with midsize retailers to field-test and refine its robotic equipment, and the startup is now ready to accelerate its operations on a larger scale, Bogolea said.
Companies that have signed on to use Simbe’s robot, known as Tally, include Schnuck Markets, SpartanNash, Wakefern Food and BJ’s Wholesale Club. Simbe has also supplied its artificial intelligence-based technology to international retailer Carrefour, which is using the robots at stores in the United Arab Emirates.
“The selection of those types of partners .. were really critical in bringing the solution to fruition. And now this is really about us just attacking the domestic and global interests that we have on our doorstep,” Bogolea said.
The fundraising round Simbe announced Thursday follows a Series A round the company completed in September 2019 and brings the total amount of money the company has brought in from investors to $54 million. In addition to Eclipse, participants in the company’s Series B round included all of the company’s major existing investors, including Venrock, Pathbreaker Ventures and Valo Ventures, Bogolea said.
Simbe has increased its annual recurring revenue by a factor of 10 since 2020, according to the company.
Tally works by traversing store aisles and using computer vision to determine which products are on shelves and alert workers when items are out of stock. The robots typically scan stores three to five times per day and can operate when shoppers are present, Bogolea said.
Bogolea said Simbe is looking to expand the types of products Tally is able to identify.
“Today we’re covering all of the core categories, from dry grocery to health care and beauty, freezers, coolers, wine, beer, liquor,” he said. “We're doing more and more work in the areas of produce and fresh … that’s an area where I think even more value can be unlocked over time, as you think about what sensing technology can see, potentially, compared to the human eye.”
Simbe’s technology also improves stores’ ability to fulfill e-commerce orders, Bogolea said, adding that retailers it works with have reduced pick times by close to 40% by using data from Tally to guide workers as they walk the aisles to assemble orders.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Simbe no longer works with Hy-Vee.