Robotics And AI Company Simbe Secures $26 Million

By Noah Long ● Sep 16, 2019
  • Simbe Robotics, a company that is leveraging robotics and AI to provide physical retail with insights into inventory and operations, announced it raised $26 million 

Simbe Robotics — a company that is leveraging robotics and AI to provide physical retail with unparalleled insights into inventory and operations — announced two separate funding deals. This includes a Series A equity financing round and an inventory financing agreement with SoftBank Robotics thus allowing the company to increase efficiencies in production and deployment of Simbe’s Tally robot.

In conjunction with the Series A round of funding, three renowned industry experts are joining Simbe’s governing Board of Directors, positioning the company to continue scaling global expansion to meet market demand. 

Simbe will be leveraging the 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 Simbe Robotics co-founder and CEO Brad Bogolea. “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.”

The $26 million Series A round of funding was led by Venrock with participation from Future Shape, Valo Ventures, and Activant Capital. These investors have a deep understanding of the retail, robotics, and technology industries. And the investors 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 and scaling sales, marketing and customer success functions. Plus it will provide 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,” added David Pakman, a 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.”

The appointments to the board of directors include Future Shape principal Tony Fadell — who is also the iPod inventor and co-inventor of the iPhone along with being the founder of Nest.  Plus Venrock partner David Pakman and Pathbreaker Ventures managing partner Ryan Gembala are also joining the Simbe 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!” explained Fadell. “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.”

Last year, Simbe and SoftBank Robotics America started a partnership to leverage SoftBank Robotics’ (SBR) international reach and operational efficiencies to scale Simbe’s business globally. And following the initial success of the partnership, SBR and Simbe will expand their collaboration to include inventory financing, accelerating Simbe’s global deployment of Tally.

The funds will also support scaled manufacturing of an additional 1,000 Tally units over the coming two years. And 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. Plus the investment underscores the need for automation throughout the retail industry and points to the blossoming Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) model — which is 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,” commented Kass Dawson, the 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.”

Since being founded in 2014, Simbe 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. Plus 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 is optimizing the grocery supply chain, enabling faster operational decisions at the store level and more nimble inventory management between retailers, brands, and logistics providers. And it is ultimately building one of the most valuable datasets in the retail ecosystem. 

So far, Simbe has deployed Tally robots in more than 12 of the top 250 global retailers in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Its retail partners include Schnuck Markets, Giant Eagle, Decathlon Sporting Goods, Groupe Casino, etc. And it completed more than 100,000 hours of fully autonomous operation. Plus it captured 500 million shelf photos, navigated more than 25,000 miles in-store alongside employees and customers, and analyzed over 1 billion products and shelf tags.