- California-based startup Zume has secured $375 million in funding from SoftBank Vision Fund. This latest round of capital is expected to bring Zume’s valuation to about $2.25 billion. According to the Wall Street Journal, SoftBank is also expected to invest another $375 million “in the future.”
- In a written statement, CEO and co-founder Alex Garden said the funding will support the company’s growth and hiring.
- Founded in 2015, Zume uses robotics technology to automate the pizza-making process and cook those pizzas while in transit.
Zume has been using its robotic chefs to make pizzas for more than three years, but the company’s CEO and co-founder Alex Garden has his eye on expanding well beyond pizza. According to Forbes, the company is focused on scaling its proprietary technology to make it available to any type of restaurant concept. This latest round of funding should help it do just that.
Even though Garden has bigger aspirations for the technology, he has admitted that he “wildly underestimated the market demand” for the patented Bake on the Way technology. SoftBank, however, has not. Underscoring just how big this investment is, according to Pitchbook analysis, the total venture capital funding of robotics startups since 2013 was $311 million before this deal.
The technology that enables Zume’s Bake on the Way process is called Ratio by Zume. The system calculates the delivery route and sends a signal to each oven to begin cooking at a specific time. This optimizes the delivery time while ensuring the product’s integrity. With this capability, the concept of on-demand food is quite literal.
Pizza is a logical market to launch this real-time delivery technology in. While seemingly every concept is trying to figure out how to best incorporate delivery into their systems, pizza has had delivery logistics nailed down for decades. Domino’s and Pizza Hut have already jumped into this second iteration — Domino’s introduced its DXP in 2015, which included a pizza-warming oven and storage compartments. Pizza Hut stepped it up a notch just last week with the introduction of its Tundra PIE Pro, a Toyota Tundra that includes a pizza-making kitchen in the bed, complete with a refrigerator, computer-guided robotic arms and a portable conveyor oven.
Pizza Hut COO Nicolas Burquier said the prototype improves the customer experience by “bringing the oven closer to the customer’s door.” In other words, the race is on to remove any barriers — speed, product integrity, etc. — from kitchen to customer, and Zume’s technology can level the playing field for restaurant concepts that don’t have pockets as deep as Domino’s or Pizza Hut.
SoftBank, which has already invested in DoorDash and Uber Eats, is bullish on delivery for a reason. The channel is estimated to be worth $76 billion by 2022. Its bet on Zume suggests the bank expects the idea of baking on the way to make a big dent in the industry.