- Stellar Pizza, a company that makes trucks equipped with robotic pizza makers, has raised $16.5 million in a funding round backed by Jay-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners, multiple outlets reported.
- Stellar, which was founded by former SpaceX employees in 2019, uses a robot to cook mobile ordered pizzas which are then delivered by the truck driver. The company raised $9 million from other investors in a previous round of funding, Restaurant Business reported.
- MVP’s investment comes as Stellar prepares to launch its first trucks this fall at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Stellar didn’t responded to Restaurant Dive’s request for comment.
Stellar’s business model blends a pair of ideas popular on the margins of the restaurant industry: robotic pizza makers and delivery vehicles that double as cooking facilities. The concept is fairly similar to a prototype unveiled by Pizza Hut in 2018. Last year, Domino’s began piloting an autonomous delivery robot with Nuro, though the vehicles do not cook the pizzas.
Stellar’s fundraising also bucks an industry trend. Some major companies are scaling back their robotics divisions as monetary conditions tighten worldwide, with banks restricting investments by raising interest rates in the hopes of cooling inflation. Earlier this year, the restaurant tech sector faced a slew of layoffs and jobs cuts as companies adjusted to worsening macroeconomic forecasts. In May, Reef cut 5% of its global workforce, while Nextbite, ChowNow, Gopuff and Lunchbox all laid off workers in July. DoorDash shuttered its robotics subsidiary, Chowbotics, in August and shifted focus towards other robotics projects, while Brinker paused its test of Rita the Robot.
The demand for restaurant automation and labor-saving tech remains strong, however, despite economic challenges. Major brands have invested in kitchen reorganization and new equipment recently, while Uber and Nuro struck a 10-year partnership to offer automated delivery in September.