[Editor’s note: “Miso Robotics: Flippy and the Robotic Future for Restaurants” was originally published on June 11. It has since been updated and republished to reflect new information.]
You may have seen it scrolling through your Facebook feed, but Flippy, a burger-flipping robot, resides at a restaurant chain called CaliBurger in Pasadena, California. Flippy makes hamburgers for the customers, many of whom take photos of it with their smartphones. It’s all good fun, but for private investors, the startup Miso Robotics, which is also based in Pasadena, is their ticket to investing in the autonomous revolution.
Miso is currently raising capital via the crowdfunding site SeedInvest, where it hopes to attract crowd investors interested in its Flippy robot and sophisticated, cloud-based AI system.
This system is the brain for Flippy. In other words, it’s the priceless technology that imbues Flippy with the ability to learn over time as it fries and grills various foods. Allowing it to optimize the heat and consistency while minimizing kitchen waste. In all, the technology has 12 patents pending and one issued.
Going forward, Miso Robotics has plans to expand the capabilities for Flippy. This includes enabling it to cut onions and vegetables as well as clean utensils. But the biggest upgrade for Flippy is ROAR, or Robot on a Rail, which allows the robot to move to different stations. It will also cost $30,000 (nearly a fraction of the cost for the older version of Flippy) and will be available by the end of this year.
There’s no doubt that in order for Miso Robotics to have pulled this off, the company needed a strong team of smart software engineers and data scientists. Many of its employees have come from reputable organizations and companies like MIT, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, NASA, SpaceX and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).
Traction for Miso Robotics
According to the SeedInvest profile, Miso Robotics reported that it had doubled its revenues from 2018 to 2019 (Note: the exact numbers are not provided). What’s more, the company has signed an $11 million contract with CaliBurger to roll out Flippy to more than 50 locations across the globe.
But there are some other deals, such as for the fryers for Dodgers Stadium and Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. This was through a contract with Compass Group and Levy Restaurants.
Miso Robotics has also been successful in getting lots of media exposure. According to the company’s own estimate, there have been more than 10 billion organic impressions.
The market opportunity for Miso Robotics is certainly enormous. Consider that the global quick service restaurant industry generates $273 billion in revenues. But there are also slim margins, with labor expenses accounting for roughly a quarter of total revenues.
Thus, there is likely to be rising demand for automation technologies like Flippy. The CEO of CaliGroup has said that the robot “will reduce kitchen labor expenses by over 65% while increasing efficiency and the amount of food cooked by 23%.”
Bottom Line on Flippy
Miso Robotics has already raised $14.6 million from venture capitalists and angel investors. Some of the them include CaliBurger, MAG Ventures, Levy Restaurants, Wavemaker, Fanuc and Acacia Research Corporation.
As for the crowdfunding round, Miso Robotis has raised more than $4.74 million from 2,214 investors at $17.16 per share. The pre-money valuation is $80,000.
The minimum investment is $1,493 and the security offered is a preferred stock. There are also numerous perks, depending on the amount invested. For example, if you invest between $5,000 and $9,999, you will get two Miso Robotics hats, 20 vouchers for free CaliBurgers, four free tickets to a regular season Dodgers game and a $100 CaliBurger gift card.
However, the investment has risks to consider, as is the case with any startup. For example, the business is capital intensive because of the hardware costs. There is also emerging competition in the market. Just some of the rivals include Creator, which has raised $18.4 million, and Zume, which has raised a hefty $423 million (the company is focused on the pizza market).
So before making an investment, it is essential to do your own due diligence.
Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) is an advisor and author of various books and online courses about technology, including Artificial Intelligence Basics, The Robotic Process Automation Handbook and Learn Python Super Fast. He is also the founder of WebIPO, which was one of the first platforms for public offerings during the 1990s. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
Investing through equity and real estate crowdfunding or asset tokenization requires a high degree of risk tolerance. Despite what individual companies may promise, there’s always the chance of losing a portion, or the entirety, of your investment. These risks include:
1) Greater chance of failure
2) Risk of fraudulent activity
3) Lack of liquidity
4) Economic downturns
5) Dearth of investor education
Read more: Private Investing Risks