Ex-AWS engineer leads robotic coffee barista maker to open additional retail locations

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Seattle’s coffee company wants to revolutionize the way espressos and lattes are made.

It’s not Starbucks. It’s Artly, an innovative 2-year-old startup which just raised $8.3million to help grow its robot baristas.

Artly developed an AI-powered machine using computer vision algorithms. It claims it makes the perfect cup of coffee every single time. It currently has five locations on the West Coast, and plans to use the funding to expand.

Artly roasts and sources its own coffee beans. The company owns most of its stores, which are profitable. The startup has also partnered with MUJI, a Portland-based clothing retailer.

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Artly wants to be a specialty coffee maker and compete with Blue Bottle or Stumptown.

Artly CEO Meng Zhang stated that AI and robotics are more efficient than traditional specialty coffee shops in scaling up. “Interaction with our robotics is unique for consumers. However, we will make the overall experience comparable to traditional coffee shops.”

In 2015 , Wang sold Orbeus, an imagine recognition company,, to Amazon. As a principal scientist at Amazon Web Services, he worked for seven years.

Wang acknowledged Artly’s robots have reduced the need for human labor in its coffee shops, but said that the technology doesn’t necessarily mean that workers will be displaced.

He told Economicpitch that he created STEM jobs and raised barista positions so that baristas could create better recipes, teach the robot and provide customer service. If their skills are popular with our customers, a barista will be paid more and can serve millions more customers.

Artly is one of a number of robotics companies that aims to increase efficiency and lower labor costs in the hospitality and food industries. These businesses are benefiting from workforce shortages and increased interest in contactless services. There are many companies that develop coffee barista robots.

Picnic, another startup from Seattle, is bringing automation to food industry through its robotic pizza maker. The company has just signed a deal to partner with Dominos.

Artly was co-founded by Wang and Yushan Ch, who were former colleagues at Orbeus, Amazon and where she was a senior technical product manger in robotics. Artly has recently hired Daniel Lee as vice president of retail & business operations.

The new funding was described by the company as a “Pre Series A round”. Investors include SV Tech Ventures and Amino Capital, LDV Partners and Aimtop Ventures. The total amount of funding is currently $10 million. Artly has 15 employees.

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