Chowbotics raises $11 million to move its robot beyond salads

Creating a salad-making robot is pretty good, as far as tech company hooks go, but Chowbotics is looking to expand. The Bay Area company just raised $11 million in a “Series A-1” led by the Foundry Group and Techstars.

The big plan for the money largely involves extending the company’s selection of foodstuffs beyond leafy greens, where Sally the Salad Robot has made its mint. At the top of the list are grain bowls, breakfast bowls, poke bowls, açai bowls and yogurt bowls. If it’s food served in a bowl, Chowbotics seems interested.

Seems pretty straightforward, really. After all, at its core, Sally is a kind of vending machine, dropping different ingredients into the same bowl. Apparently it’s a bit more complicated than that, especially when you start mixing in things like yogurts and berry purees. “The major challenges are finding special technical solutions for dispensing different shapes and sizes of ingredients,” founder/CEO Deepak Sekar told TechCrunch.

The company is also using the funding to add a whole bunch of senior roles. Per the press release:

Warren Manzer, who was President of Foodservice at Clipper and Senior Vice President at Crown Brands, joined Chowbotics as Vice President of Foodservice Sales. Rory Bevins, who was Senior Vice President at La Bottega Americas and Global Vice President at Molton Brown, joined Chowbotics as Vice President of Hospitality. Lee Greer, who was Chief Marketing Officer at Jason’s Deli, joined Chowbotics as Vice President of its Off-Premise Kitchen Business Unit. Shelley Janes, who was Head of Partnerships at CarDash and CEO of SideDoor, joined Chowbotics as Director of Sales, responsible for the western region of the United States. Nolan Schachter, who was Director of Sales and Marketing at TeaBot, joined Chowbotics as Director of Sales, responsible for Canada.

The funding follows a $5 million Series A in March of last year.

Ashton Kutcher and Effie Epstein to talk Sound Ventures at Disrupt SF

While many celebrities try to invest in the world of tech, very few do so successfully. And no one has proved their worth as celebrity-turned-VC more than Ashton Kutcher .

That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to host Ashton Kutcher and Sound Ventures partner Effie Epstein at TC Disrupt SF in September.

Kutcher first got into investing in 2011 with the launch of A-Grade Investments. The firm invested in big-name companies like DuoLingo, FlexPort, ProductHunt, Airbnb, and Uber. In 2014, Kutcher, alongside his longtime friend and partner Guy Oseary, started a new VC firm called Sound Ventures.

Since launch, Sound Ventures has made 53 investments and led six rounds of financing, with portfolio companies including Gusto, Vicarious, Robinhood, Lemonade, and Acorns.

And in 2017, Sound made another investment in the form of Effie Epstein. The firm brought on Epstein as managing partner, with Kutcher telling TechCrunch: “Effie has a deep understanding of business and fiduciary responsibilities. She also has a multidisciplinary background which makes her a home run for venture. The bottom line is she is someone I want to work for.”

Before joining Sound, Epstein led global strategy at Marsh & McLennan subsidiary Marsh. Prior to Marsh, she served as SVP of planning and head of Investor Relations at iHeartMedia, and before that she worked in business development at Clear. Epstein also worked in investment banking in the energy sector and has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

In other words, Epstein brings a multi-disciplinary approach to Sound, which is venturing beyond consumer tech into financial services, insurance tech, enterprise, govtech and medtech sectors.

This won’t be Kutcher’s first go-around at Disrupt. He spoke at Disrupt NY in 2013, right as the world was first hearing about Bitcoin. We’re excited to revisit the topic of cryptocurrencies and so much more with Kutcher and Epstein, and discuss their investment thesis moving forward.

Tickets to Disrupt SF are available here.