Seattle startup Picnic raised an additional $3 million from existing investors as it gears up for a commercial rollout of its pizza-making robot.
Vulcan Capital, Flying Fish Partners, Creative Ventures, Arnold Venture Group, and others put more money behind Picnic, known for its automated food preparation device that can churn out up to 300 12-inch customized pizzas per hour. It follows a $5 million seed round in November.
The fresh cash will be used for product development, response to customer interest, new hires, and marketing. The company has seen increased demand for its machine during the pandemic from customers looking for ways to prepare food with less contact.
“This work is important because we’re supporting struggling restaurants who are looking for any advantage that will help them weather the storm of losing 60% of their sales,” CEO Clayton Wood wrote in a blog post earlier this year. “By surviving through this, they’ll be in a position to re-hire lost workers and find their way in the new, forever-changed world of food service.”
Picnic, previously known as Otto Robotics and Vivid Robotics, is among a bevy of startups and larger industry giants trying to find ways to automate restaurant kitchens amid slim margins and labor shortages. The pandemic has put attention on food automation as restaurants and food preparation companies navigate around new hygiene protocols.
Robotic chefs have yet to go mainstream, but Picnic rival XRobotics launched earlier this month with its own pizza-making machine. DaVinci Kitchen will soon debut an automated robot pasta kiosk.
Meanwhile, Little Caesar’s has a patent for a pizza-making robot. White Castle