Co-founded in 2016 by Gunnar Grass and Camilo Perez, YPC Technologies is developing kitchen automation in the form of the first robot that can prepare thousands of recipes of restaurant quality, using fresh ingredients. The company announced a $1.8M seed round today co-led by Hike Ventures and returning investor Real Ventures, with participation from Toyota AI Ventures, Uphill Capital, and multiple angel investors.
Rather than eliminating kitchen staff, YPC’s system collaborates with humans to increase their output by taking care of highly repetitive cooking tasks. Because this technology is compact and does not require a vented range hood, it can be operated in locations not suited for a standard commercial kitchen. The systems will be sold on a subscription basis to enterprise clients in various industries such as restaurants, cafeteria operators, hotels and cloud kitchens. Support and maintenance costs are built into the subscription fees.
“We leverage modern kitchen appliances with robotics and machine learning to cook fresh, customized meals with great consistency and hygiene,” said CEO Gunnar Grass. “Our system allows our B2B customers to decrease the cost of labor, rent, and food waste and enables consumers to access healthier food at lower cost.”
YPC will use the financing to expand its engineering team and pilot its beta version with an industry-leading multinational. The company also announced that Kaunteya Nundy, an investment banker who previously helped establish two of Canada’s best restaurants (Joe Beef and Liverpool House) has joined the team as their COO.
“Robotic kitchen automation is a nascent space with great market potential. The solution from YPC Technologies is smart, efficient, and scalable. YPC’s robotic kitchen enables safe collaboration with humans and simultaneously solves multiple cooking challenges: quantity, quality, and variety,” said Jim Adler, founding managing director at Toyota AI Ventures. “We look forward to working with the YPC Technologies team as they bring their technology to market.”
The kitchen automation systems are designed to help minimize the impacts of labor shortages and staff turnover, as well as improve food hygiene. Operators of senior’s residences may also be interested not only because of the cost savings involved, but also because YPC’s systems can help limit the number of workers going in an out of a given facility which is an important consideration during a pandemic. Furthermore, the systems make on-site food preparation viable in places where it otherwise may not be, such as offices with 50 to 100 staff.
“YPC Technologies’ versatile approach to robotic cooking has the potential to alter the way we prepare food in a variety of settings, democratizing the access to high-quality meals.” said Mikihiro Yasuda, managing partner at Hike Ventures. “We are excited to co-lead this round with Real Ventures and help YPC to start commercializing their technology.”
YPC will be piloting their systems in Q1 – 2021 and be ready for scaleup soon after. They also plan to announce formal partnerships both with a multi billion-dollar cafeteria and food service company, as well as a leading appliance manufacturer over the coming months.