Wednesday, 30 April 2014 00:00

After Flipkart, Tiger Global bets on Indian robot maker Grey Orange Robotics

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An Indian startup which builds robots that help online retailers automate their warehouses has raised funding from New York-based investment firm Tiger Global and early-stage investor Blume Ventures.

Grey Orange Robotics received about Rs 54 crore in the round where two angel investors Raju Reddy and Dileep Nath also participated, said a person with direct knowledge of the developments.

Founded by two graduates from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Pilani - Samay Kohli, 27 and Akash Gupta, 24 - the company will use the funds to hire talent, increase research and development and expand in markets such as Singapore, Dubai and Germany.

"We want to grow fast or die trying," said Kohli, chief executive of Grey Orange. "Our ambition is to be a billion-dollar firm in next five years." He declined to reveal revenue figures or the valuation of the firm.

Grey Orange, which has offices in Gurgaon and Singapore, has become the first Indian robotics and artificial intelligence company to get funded by global investors.

Tiger Global which is also an investor in Flipkart flew down experts from Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to Gurgaon to do the due diligence.

Set up in 2009, Grey Orange builds robots for the global logistics industry that can move shelves stacked with various products to a floor assistant who then scans a bar code to confirm the right items. Kohli said his company's robots are being tested by Flipkart and Jabong although both online companies did not respond to email queries on the topic. Experts said robots can deliver tremendous efficiency and cost advantage to the ecommerce companies.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg in emerging technology companies that support the ecommerce industry," said Sundi Natarajan, an early investor in Grey Orange.

While still in college, Kohli and Gupta designed and built a robot that waited at tables in the college cafeteria. They later programmed it to act as a tour guide to guests during seminars and conferences in the college.

"It is rare to see a team pursue their passion for an idea from college days to a fully established business," said Raju Reddy, who is also a board member at Hitachi Consulting, a subsidiary of Hitachi. "This founding team has the tenacity and skill to build a substantial global company."

Grey Orange competes with companies like Swisslog and Kiva Systems, bought by internet retailer Amazon for $775 million (Rs 4,692 crore) in March 2012. Globally, large technology firms such as Google and Facebook are on a shopping spree for artificial intelligence, drone and robot companies as they fight for future of technology.

Last December, Google acquired at least seven robotic startups such as Schaft, Industrial Perception, Redwood Robotics, Meka Robotics and Bot & Dolly. Boston Dynamics, one of the companies acquired by Google, builds robots for the US Military.

"This investment is a strong validation of Grey Orange's disruptive technology," said Dileep Nath, co-founder of technology firm Kanbay, which was acquired by Capgemini for $1.25 billion in 2006.

Read 726 times Last modified on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 21:50
Brian Cohen

Brian is the Chief Editor at fundedflow