Our Robot Comes to Life and Gets Right to Work

Brad Porter

April 2024

The scariest thing about starting a robotics company is that you start without a robot. You’re trying to sell prospective employees, customers and investors on a vision when you have no tangible product.

We’re deeply grateful that Neo, Khosla Ventures, Calibrate Ventures, 1984 Ventures, Fuel Capital and an amazing set of early angel investors made that bet on us in the form of a $10M seed round without knowing what we would build.

When we raised our $30M Series A, we had some renderings. We had early proof-of-concept subassemblies. We had a stellar team. We also had 3 customers that had also taken a bet on us early. We’re similarly grateful that Sequoia came on board leading our Series A with Alfred Lin joining the Board. Again Khosla backed us in a big way, as did Mayo Clinic and MVP Ventures.

But everything changed for us last November. We finally had our robot. We could see it, interact with it and even talk to it. By January we had multiple robots and we were ready to start testing in the field with a global logistics partner who had a real challenge to solve in moving large industrial carts in a cross-dock operation.

Our first robot wasn’t a research demonstration. Our first robot was a fully functioning robot that met the specifications we knew the real world required. While we were able to use over 70% off the shelf parts, most of them, like our mobility motors from electric wheelchairs, are previously hardened in other applications, the robot design is entirely novel. There’s nothing like it that can move existing boxes, totes and carts in commercial environments.

Our first robot, while serial number 000001, wasn’t a one-time prototype either. We quickly built multiple of exactly the same robot from the same specifications. With a zonal compute architecture and industrial-rated sensors, we were able to move straight from simulation and our robot was autonomously sensing and moving around the environment as soon as we powered it on.

Finally, we were in a position to show our robot to those investors who bet on us with just a vision and a few renderings. We set up a demonstration on January 30th. While we were and still are, in stealth on the actual robot design, we felt like we could finally lift the covers on our ambition for our investors.

On very short notice, we decided to invite a few additional investors that we had gotten to know over time. We invited Bison Ventures, an amazing new fund comprised of seasoned venture investors making high-conviction, concentrated bets on the best teams. We invited Industry Ventures, a long-time supporter of 1984 Ventures, who had been following our progress. And we invited General Catalyst, a firm that we have long held in high regard.

Hemant and the team at General Catalyst have a vision for the future and they look for ways that they can bring together leaders, founders, investors and even entire industries to responsibly build a resilient future faster.

When I saw Paul Kwan at our event, I told him how much we would be honored to have General Catalyst invest.

When Paul and Hemant told me they would like to lead our Series B now and Paul wanted to join our Board, we felt like we had found the ideal partner. We signed the term sheet without hesitation and didn’t look back. Bison Ventures and Industry Ventures joined in and we’re proud that our existing investors all invested more in this round. Lux Capital came in as well to round out the round.

As a bonus, we’re also excited by the opportunity to work with Teresa Carlson again. Teresa and I worked together at Amazon, both leaving and venturing into the startup ecosystem in the past few years. Teresa has joined General Catalyst to help advise portfolio companies like ours as to how to think bigger about shifting entire industries by securing AWS-scale deals. Teresa joins us as a formal advisor and we’re thrilled to be able to access her advice and counsel as we seek to do just that.

The world is changing. Our team, our investors and our customers are change agents inspired to build a better, more hospitable future. We wake up every day inspired to build that future. The $100M Series B allows us to realize that vision faster, with more customers, while doubling down on collaborative interactions through AI. When we’re ready, we’ll be excited to show the world what a trustworthy, adaptable, and useful cobot looks like.

But if you’re like us, thinking big about the future of robotics and the nature of human-robot interaction, we want to talk to you. We’re always on the look-out for candidates, customers, and prospective future investors who want to change the world with us.

Brad Porter


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