Coco delivery robot operation gets $36m in funding

A new delivery robot company, LA based Coco has raised $36 million in Series A funding.

The funding round has been led by Sam Altman, Silicon Valley Bank and Founders Fund, with participation from Sam Nazarian, Ellen Chen and Mario Del Pero. It brings the company’s total funding up to around $43 million.

“I strongly believe the delivery service industry in its current state is massively under-serving merchants. We have an enormous opportunity to create a better experience for hundreds of thousands of merchants and their customers, today,” co0founder and CEO Zach Rash said in a release. “This is not a research program experimenting with technology to be productised at some unknown point in the future.”

Launching in February 2020, Coco was originally known as Cyan Robotics and has emerged from UCLA research. It now must compete with big players like Nuro and Starship that have been far quicker to market. Instead of full automation, the Coco delivery robot uses remote drivers that the company feels is a selling point due to some industry discomfort about full automation.

The firm currently has 120 staff but plans this to be more than 1,000 by the end of 2021. As well as growing staff numbers the funding is to cover building more robots and to begin operations in new cities. It says it has achieved a 97% on-time rate.

“We are currently operating in Santa Monica and in five different L.A neighbourhoods,” the company said in a statement.  “Later this year we are expanding into a number of other major U.S. cities. We have partnered with national restaurant brands like SBE (Umami Burger) and are actively scaling across many locations, and we are serving a wide range of family operated restaurants like Bangkok West Thai in Santa Monica and San Pedro Brewing Company in Los Angeles. We are out of the pilot phase and are launching with dozens of new merchants every day.”