On Tuesday, Seattle foodtech company Picnic announced the closing of its $16.3 million Series A funding round. Thursday Ventures led the round, with participation from Creative Ventures, Flying Fish Partners and Vulcan Capital.
This Series A will help the company grow its operations and fund the rollout of its flagship product: the Picnic Pizza System.
Picnic is one of several companies using robotics in the food industry to automate operations. By doing so, these companies are able to produce cheap and consistent food even when there’s a shortage of labor.
Pizza is also one of those foods that can be easily made by a robot, since it’s simple to assemble and cook, and doesn’t necessarily require supervision. The Picnic Pizza System can make hundreds of pizzas per hour with a single operator. It can make pre-assembled and custom pizzas to order. And it’s tablet-operated to minimize human contact with the ingredients.
The machine is also meant to be installed in a variety of settings. While it makes sense to put one in a restaurant, food court or cafeteria, Picnic also imagines the Pizza System in colleges, casinos, sports venues or even military sites — basically anywhere someone would benefit from having access to a quick pizza. The company will focus on deploying the machine to more sites this year and ramp up production volume later in 2021.
The new funding will also help Picnic hire for more roles in order to grow the company. Picnic currently has eight open jobs listed on its website for roles across engineering and more.
“The new financing and strategic partnerships support Picnic’s vision, and will help us launch commercial operations quickly,” Picnic CEO Clayton Wood said in a statement. “This financing demonstrates that our investors and the foodservice industry believe in the differentiated value of the Picnic Pizza System, and the strong need for automated solutions that help reduce costs, food waste and labor shortages in the kitchen.”
In addition to the Series A, Picnic announced a new partnership with Orion Land Mark, the largest supplier of pizza and pizza components for the convenience store industry. This will allow Picnic to offer its pizza assembly solutions to the OLM network of customers, which includes more than 2,000 businesses across the world.
Picnic also announced a partnership with Ethan Stowell Restaurants, which will give the company the chance to show off its machine at pop-ups and events around the Seattle area. So be on the lookout for a pizza robot near you.