Simbe Raises $26M Series A Led by Venrock in Addition to Substantial Inventory Financing From SoftBank Robotics
Creators of Autonomous Retail Robot Tally to Leverage Investments and Partnerships to Meet Rapidly Increasing Market Demand, Solidifying Position as Category Leader
Simbe Robotics, Inc., the company leveraging robotics and AI to provide physical retail with unparalleled insights into inventory and operations, today announced two separate funding deals - a Series A equity financing round and an inventory financing agreement with SoftBank Robotics, allowing the company to increase efficiencies in production and deployment of Simbe's Tally robot. With the Series A round, three renowned industry experts join Simbe's governing Board of Directors, positioning the company to continue scaling global expansion to meet market demand.
With significant validation and backing from premier firms, Simbe will leverage this unique blend of equity and inventory financing to build on the momentum and significant growth the company has experienced to date. This includes a focus on growing its team, expanding its fleet of Tally robots into new markets, accelerating its deployments with existing partners, and unlocking more value in-store with new capabilities, furthering Simbe's mission of revitalizing brick-and-mortar retail with e-commerce level insight.
"Our investors, both previous and new, provide much more than financial support. They are advocates and trusted advisors who bring invaluable institutional knowledge to all facets of our business," said Brad Bogolea, Co-Founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics. "Both our equity financing partners and the SoftBank Robotics team are deeply aligned with Simbe's vision to revitalize physical retail through data. We are at a pivotal time of growth and value their support as we continue to transform retail at a global scale."
Series A Equity Financing
The $26 million Series A was led by Venrock with participation from Future Shape, Valo Ventures, and Activant Capital. These top-tier investors have a deep understanding of the retail, robotics, and technology industries and will support Simbe with invaluable knowledge and guidance as the company begins a new phase of growth. The equity capital will go toward business operations including growing the team of world-class talent; scaling sales, marketing and customer success functions; and continued investment in R&D.
"The Simbe team is building one of the most interesting datasets in retail, capturing inventory and pricing data that hasn't been available before. With Simbe, retail stores can free up scarce labor to spend more time doing high-value activities like interacting with customers. Retail is changing, and stores must modernize to succeed in today's environment," said David Pakman, partner at Venrock and Simbe board member. "The Simbe team has impressed me from the start, and they are uniquely equipped to bring this new reality to retail."
Three New Appointments to the Board Of Directors
With the close of the Series A financing, Tony Fadell, Principal at Future Shape, iPod inventor, iPhone co-inventor and Founder of Nest; David Pakman, Partner at Venrock; and Ryan Gembala, Managing Partner at Pathbreaker Ventures will be joining Simbe's Board of Directors.
"Every brick-and-mortar shopper, store associate, and brand needs to know ‘What's happening on the shelf?' Simbe's Tally solves this problem!" said Tony Fadell, Principal at Future Shape and Simbe board member. "The company's proven technology and ROI is improving the bottom lines of well-known grocers and retailers on multiple continents. Now it's time to scale Simbe's data and hardware platform to revolutionize many more stores."
In early 2018, Simbe and SoftBank Robotics America began a partnership to leverage SoftBank Robotics' (SBR) international reach and operational efficiencies to scale Simbe's business globally. Following the initial success of the partnership, SBR and Simbe will expand their collaboration to include inventory financing, accelerating Simbe's global deployment of its fully autonomous retail robot, Tally. The funds will support scaled manufacturing of an additional 1,000 Tally units over the coming two years. SoftBank Robotics has deployed more than 25,000 robots globally and has the infrastructure in place to support Simbe's need to scale manufacturing, shipping, deployment, and field services of Tally robots globally. The investment underscores the need for automation throughout the retail industry and points to the new, blossoming Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) model, a model SoftBank Robotics has adopted for the future of automation across multiple industries.
"Building on the momentum of our partnership with Simbe and our focus on augmenting the workforce through automation, inventory financing was a natural next step to bring more Tally robots to market, faster. The retail space is hungry for autonomous solutions to common pain points, and Simbe has exceeded expectations in designing, building, and deploying Tally robots worldwide." said Kass Dawson, Head of Business Strategy at Softbank Robotics. "The feedback from retail partners and consumers alike has been overwhelmingly positive - which is reflected in retailers' demand for more Tally units on a global scale. Simbe and SoftBank Robotics' synergistic partnership helps solve that demand and is demonstrative of the types of mutually beneficial partnerships the robotics industry should be moving toward."
Founded in 2014, Simbe has emerged as the leading data-driven inventory solution for physical retailers, with Tally taking the lead as the first fully autonomous robot currently performing multiple store traversals per day - alongside customers during regular hours of operation - and executing a variety of inventory auditing tasks. Using both computer vision and RFID scanning technology, Tally provides retailers and their global CPG brand partners with actionable, e-commerce-level insights into shelf data up to three times per day.
Simbe's actionable dataset paired with its AI-powered analysis ultimately enables retailers to protect profitability and increase efficiency, solving for the $1.75 trillion "ghost economy" defined by out of stocks, accurate price execution, and lack of product location optimization industry-wide. Simbe optimizes the grocery supply chain, enabling faster operational decisions at the store level and more nimble inventory management between retailers, brands, and logistics providers, and is ultimately building one of the most valuable datasets in the retail ecosystem.
To date, Simbe has:
Deployed Tally robots in over 12 of the top 250 global retailers in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Retail partners include Schnuck Markets, Giant Eagle, Decathlon Sporting Goods, Groupe Casino, and more
Completed 100,000+ hours of fully autonomous operation
Navigated more than 25,000 miles in-store, alongside employees and customers
Captured 500M shelf photos
Analyzed over 1B products and shelf tags
Executed a program in partnership with Advantage Solutions and leading global consumer goods manufacturers (CPGs) to identify on-shelf opportunities and ultimately provide a better shopping experience
Expanded headquarters in South San Francisco 6x the size of previous offices to support company growth
Received well-respected robotics and retail industry accolades, including:
Fast Company, Top 10 Most Innovative Robotics Companies
Robotics Business Review, Top 50 Robotics Company
RFID Journal Solution Award
National Retail Federation, List of People Shaping Retail's Future
About Simbe Robotics
Simbe Robotics is the global leader in automation solutions that give retailers unprecedented visibility and insight into the state of their store environments, while improving inventory and operational challenges. Simbe is a privately held, venture-backed company headquartered in San Francisco, CA and works with major worldwide retailers and brands across the US, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. More information is available at www.simberobotics.com or follow the company at @simberobotics.
Originally established as the venture capital arm of the Rockefeller family in 1969, Venrock partners with entrepreneurs to build some of the world's most disruptive, successful companies. With a primary focus on technology and healthcare, portfolio companies have included Apple, AveXis, Centocor, Dollar Shave Club, DoubleClick, Gilead, Idec Pharma, Illumina, Intel, Millennium, ShockWave, Nest, and Zeltiq. For more information, please visit Venrock's website at www.venrock.com and follow the firm on Twitter at @venrock.
About SoftBank Robotics America
SoftBank Robotics America (SBRA), headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Boston, is elevating humanity through robotics. Softbank is constantly exploring and commercializing robotics solutions that help make people's lives easier, safer, more connected, and more extraordinary. Known for Pepper and NAO, SBRA's humanoid robots, SBRA is also a strong supporter of STREAM education and advancing automation to augment everyday work and life.
To learn more about SBRA, visit www.softbankrobotics.com/us/ or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.