Korean robot kitchen startup Aniai has successfully raised $12 million (15.7 billion won) in a pre-Series A funding round, signaling a significant step forward in its mission to reshape the culinary landscape. The investment was led by Intervest, with new contributions from SV Investment and Ignite Innovation and continued support from existing investor Capstone Partners. The latest round brings Aniai’s cumulative investment to an impressive $15 million.
Expansion Plans and Market Penetration
Aniai has garnered attention for its remarkable growth in the domestic and US hamburger markets, particularly with its ground breaking hamburger cooking robot, ‘Alpha Grill.’ The company has supplied the Alpha Grill to prominent brands such as Downtowner, Bath Burger, CJ Freshway, and Mom’s Touch, establishing its presence in the industry. Notably, Aniai has secured pre-orders for 500 units from renowned hamburger franchises including Lotteria, Tasty Burger, and Fault Burger.
The startup has also inked non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with two major American hamburger franchises, presently conducting local pilot tests to introduce the Alpha Grill. Aniai aims to commence full-scale robot installations within the next 6 to 12 months, further expanding its reach in the competitive market.
Innovation in Production and Quality Control
With a focus on strengthening its production capabilities, Aniai will inaugurate ‘Factory One,’ a domestic production plant dedicated to manufacturing the Alpha Grill. Situated in Incheon, the facility boasts a production capacity of 1,000 units per year, ensuring a stable supply chain to meet the growing demands of both domestic and international markets.
One of the key innovations introduced by Aniai is the incorporation of cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) technology into the Alpha Grill. The robot utilizes a vision sensor to assess the surface color and quality of the hamburger patty in real time. In case of any undercooking below the set standard, the robot promptly notifies the cooking staff, ensuring systematic quality control. Aniai plans to unveil this cutting-edge feature at the American Restaurant Expo scheduled to take place in Chicago in May this year.
CEO Hwang Geon-pil expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “We were able to secure an investment that exceeded our initial target by being recognized for our sales performance and technological competitiveness.” He emphasized Aniai’s commitment to shortening the technology gap in the market by bolstering not only hardware but also software capabilities throughout the year.
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