If you happen to’ve ever visited a cafeteria at a tech big like Google or Fb, you most likely discovered that the meals is simply as tasty (or tastier) and infrequently higher for you than what you would possibly order at a nook restaurant or make in your personal kitchen.
However based on Xook CEO Raja Natarajan, this type of entry to an abundance of tasty, wholesome, and free meals is extra the exception than the rule for US workplace staff. That is very totally different from international locations like India, mentioned Natarajan, the place most company employers present entry to cafeterias stocked with meals choices for workers. For this reason, after trialing a prototype for what he and cofounder Ratul Roy describe as a “meals court docket in a field” in Bangalore, they’re eyeing the US for the rollout of their robotic kiosk.
“In international locations with excessive labor prices and excessive meals prices, it is rather onerous to supply this type of expertise until it comes with automation,” Natarajan instructed The Spoon in a latest interview.
To fund the manufacturing and rollout of their kiosks, the corporate has raised $1.3 million in pre-seed funding from a bunch that features deep tech fund SRI Capital, India-based micro-VC Pitchright Ventures, investor syndicates from Letsventure and WeFounderCircle, tech accelerator Techstars, and a handful of angel traders.
In line with the Xook, their first kiosk – the Xook Primus – will be capable to make salads and meal bowls throughout quite a lot of cuisines. The unmanned kiosks have a 3’x3′ footprint and may make a meal in two minutes. Xook’s present pilot in Bangalore has made 60 various kinds of meals and is at the moment providing 25 of the preferred dishes.
In contrast to different robotic kiosk startups, Xook plans to make the most of a enterprise mannequin wherein they supply the kiosk to a buyer for free of charge, and the corporate makes cash by way of the sale of meals. The meals, which will be paid for by the employer or worker (or resident in a multifamily housing unit), will probably be replenished each day by a Xook worker positioned in every metropolis.
Natarajan and Roy instructed me they consider this mannequin will work, partially, due to the low price of their machines, which can every price about $15 thousand to fabricate. This, they are saying, compares to a price of as much as $70 thousand for different robotic kiosks. The founders instructed me they might obtain a decrease price per unit because of their custom-built robotics and easy accessibility to the technical expertise and manufacturing in India, the place most of their workers are positioned.
Curiously, whereas most of Xook’s workers are in India, the corporate relies in Singapore. In line with the cofounders, the rationale for that was they’d initially deliberate on trialing their robots within the island nation as a result of business-friendly atmosphere and the nation’s embrace of high-tech choices like robotic merchandising kiosks.
For now, although, the corporate is planning to launch its first pilot within the US by the top of this yr and has lined up two meals manufacturers to assist them enter the market. These companions, which embody a salad model and bowl meal model, will “use Xook as a channel to market” for various areas like workplaces and condo buildings.
When it launches within the US, Xook will probably be becoming a member of others like Doordash’s Chowbotics, SJW, Nommi, and RoboEatz, every preventing for market traction with their kiosks. Some, like Basil Road, have discovered the going fairly tough and have needed to name it quits.
Along with its decrease price and distinctive enterprise mannequin, Xook’s founders consider they’ll discover a path into an more and more crowded marketplace for automated meals kiosks by counting on meals model companions. Along with its preliminary two companions, they suppose the Xook’s capacity to deal with quite a lot of meals will permit them so as to add extra companions as they develop.
“There could possibly be a number of manufacturers who could possibly be serving meals in the identical merchandising machine on the similar time,” mentioned Roy. “The Xook is sort of a multi-brand meals court docket in a field.”
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