Nymble Labs, the Bengaluru-based startup behind cooking robot Julia, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from early-stage venture capital firm WaterBridge Ventures, Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal and VC firm 021 Capital.
A slew of other investors including Samay Kohli and Akash Gupta, co-founders of Grey Orange Robotics; and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Asha Jadeja Motwani also participated in the round, a statement from WaterBridge said.
The startup will use the capital for product development and innovation, to expand its technical team and set up operations in China and the USA, the statement added. Nymble will also set aside a portion of the money to conduct a closed set of user trials with its end customers, apart from augmenting its technology capabilities and creating intellectual property.
Julia is a domestic cooking robot that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to learn about user tastes and preferences and is capable of cooking single pot meals, including Asian curries, pastas, noodle or rice-based dishes, unsupervised and unattended. The company claims that the robot is capable of handling about eight varieties of vegetables and meat and six different kinds of spice blends at a time.
Owned and operated by Nymble Labs Private Limited, the startup was founded in 2016 by Raghav Gupta and Rohin Malhotra. Nymble was part of the first batch of the Bosch DNA Accelerator and has been supported by grants from the Government of Karnataka.
“People want to eat fresh food every day and owing to working lifestyles are unable to find time to cook meals from scratch every day of the week. Domestic help is almost non-existent, and delivery charges alone are $6 per meal using services like DoorDash. We want to be the company that people think about when they want to eat fresh food at home,” Gupta said.
The product uses proprietary software and sensors that measure important food parameters like weight, temperature, consistency and change in colour to cook the meal.
Internet of Robotics Things (IoRT), a combination of IoT and robots, is an emerging market where intelligent devices (robots) monitor events, fuse sensor data from a variety of sources, and use local and distributed intelligence to determine the best course of action. Citing a report by Markets and Markets, the press statement said the IoRT market is expected to be valued at $21.44 billion by 2022, growing at compounded annual growth rate of 29.7% between 2016 and 2022.
IoRT startups are divided into two segments—industrial and consumer.
In the industrial segment, India is home to startups like Grey Orange, backed by Tiger Global, Binny Bansal and others; Bengaluru-based Invento Robotics; and Nandan Nilekani-backed Systemantics.
Tech giant Microsoft also recently launched ‘Microsoft Garage’ in Hyderabad to develop products and solutions based on new-age technologies like IoT, robotics and quantum computing.
Globally, Nymble will compete against a bunch of kitchen IoT startups like Zimplistic Inventions, the company behind the IoT and AI-enabled flatbread making kitchen robot, Rotimati and smart oven maker June Oven.
The venture fund was launched last year by Sailesh Tulshan, the personal investment adviser to the founders of homegrown e-commerce major Flipkart. The fund, which will put in $2 million each in every startup it invests in, will look for opportunities in the biotechnology, agriculture and internet sectors. It has a target corpus of $50 million. Its other investments include biotech startup Pandorum Technologies and packaged food startup Y-Cook.
Tulshan is also the founder of Tsai Shen Capital, an investment advisory firm for individuals and large family offices. He was earlier associated with family office Client Associates and private lender HDFC Bank.
This early-stage VC firm invests at the seed to Series A stages of a startup and continues to put in capital in subsequent financing rounds. It backs companies in India or businesses with a strong India angle, where tech is an enabler, information on the firm's website states. It has made 15 investments and its portfolio firms have raised $125 million in capital. Some of its investments include LetsMD, a fintech startup in the healthcare space, ed-tech startup Doubtnut, online lending platform ZipLoan and hyperlocal discovery and rewards platform Magicpin.