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Ottonomy Raises $3.3 Mn To Build Autonomous Robots For Deliveries

Autonomous mobility startup Ottonomy has raised $3.3 Mn in a seed funding round led by pi Ventures, with participation from Connetic Ventures, Branded Hospitality Ventures and Addverb Technologies’ Sangeet Kumar.

The round also saw participation from other angel investors spread across the US, India, Singapore, Middle-East and Europe.

The startup will use the funding to scale production and strengthen presence across North America, Europe and the Middle East. It will also use proceeds to ramp up hiring across key verticals in India and the US.

The startup was founded in 2020 by Ritukar Vijay, Ashish Gupta, Hardik Sharma and Pradyot KVN. Ottonomy builds autonomous robot fleets largely targeted at contactless delivery. The startup had last raised a pre-seed round of $1.5 Mn.

The startup’s offering, Ottobots, creates a digital map of the serviceable area and then navigates the area autonomously to deliver the orders. The startup deploys its proprietary contextual mobility navigation software in Ottobot to enable it to operate amidst crowded and unpredictable environments. 

A Lockdown Baby

Speaking to Inc42, Ottonomy CEO Vijay said that his experience of working in the autonomous robotics space came in handy while working on the startup.

“Being part of the industry, we realised that autonomous technologies should solve real problems. And that problem came about in the form of last-mile deliveries because they are the most expensive leg of the supply chain,” said Vijay.

The Covid-19 pandemic multiplied labour shortage and that is when the team sat down to work and develop the idea, he said. 

Vijay said that the founders built first prototypes in their guest rooms and the first minimum viable product was born during the lockdowns. 

Ottonomy conducted a pilot run with Snapdeal in December 2020 and then deployed the product at the Cincinnati International Airport. 

The startup primarily aims to deploy its robots at airports, in ecommerce space and for food and beverage (F&B) restaurants. So far, the robots have been deployed across multiple countries including the US, Canada, Europe, among others, Vijay said. 

Once a customer has ordered food online, the restaurant can load the robot with food, which can then deliver across multiple gates. The user can scan the QR code on the robot to receive the delivery, the CEO said.

“Ottobots are equipped with a sophisticated tech stack both at hardware and AI level. The founding team here brings years of multi-functional robotics experience, reflecting in the world class product that they have built and commercialized. We are very excited to make our first investment in robotics and couldn’t have asked for a better team to partner with”, said managing director of pi Ventures Roopan Aulakh.

Focus On Break-Even

The startup claims to offer Robot-as-a-Service (RaaS), making its products available to its customers on a monthly subscription model. 

Vijay told Inc42 that Ottonomy signs a 24-month contract with companies to deploy its robots. It offers standardised robots that have ‘multiple use cases’, albeit customisations are available in certain cases such as requirements for transportation of perishable items.

The CEO refused to name the startup’s clients, apart from Cincinnati Airport. Vijay also said that the startup is currently in negotiations with the ‘largest retailers in the US’ and is set to go live at an international airport in Europe.

Most deeptech startups are plagued by a slew of issues, including high capital expenditure and a shortage of semiconductors. However, Vijay tried to alleviate these concerns.

“Our hypothesis lies within the range where we can break even pretty quick, based on whatever cost savings we have to. Our intent is to make sure that we are not making more robots than required,” he said.

On the issue of semiconductor shortage, he said that Ottonomy has multiple vendors across countries which help mitigate the risks to the supply chain.

He further informed that the startup does not intend to sell or monetise the data collected from various sources and that it is compliant with local data and privacy regimes.

According to a report, the global robotics technology market was valued at $62.75 Bn in 2019, and is projected to soar to $189.36 Bn by 2027 at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.5% between 2020 and 2027.

Inc42 estimates that around $1.6 Bn was poured into the Indian deeptech sector between 2014 and 2020.

Ottonomy Raises $3.3 Mn To Build Autonomous Robots For Deliveries.I wish you great success in this endeavour.

Shishir Gupta, Founder and CEO, StartupLanes

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