Avidbots, a Kitchener, Ontario-based company that makes commercial floor cleaning robots, raised $23.6 million in Series B funding led by returning investor True Ventures. This latest round of funding raises Avidbots’ venture capital financing to a total of $36 million.
Founded in 2014 by Pablo Molina and Faizan Sheikh, Avidbots’ first product, Neo, is an autonomous floor scrubbing robot that is designed for airports, warehouses, manufacturing sites, malls, and universities. After an initial facility-mapping process, Neo can autonomously clean an environment thanks to proprietary software, 3D sensors and cameras. Connected to the cloud through WiFi and 4G, Neo includes 24×7 monitoring and automatically receives software updates to add new functionality.
“With strong worldwide demand for our Neo industrial cleaning robot, Avidbots has been growing at a tremendous pace, and we’re excited to announce the financial support of world-class investors such as True Ventures, Next47, and GGV Capital as we enter into our next phase of expansion,” said CEO Sheikh. “With this new funding, we will accelerate investment in talent acquisition, engineering, marketing, and sales to bring our cutting-edge robots to more customers worldwide.”
According to Forbes, which has a great profile about Avidbots, “Neo costs around $50,000 (the exact price is based on functionality), runs for around four hours on a single charge and should last five years. A typical service plan costs some $500 per month, adding another $6,000 a year. By contrast, a commercial-grade rider-style scrubber that a laborer would operate costs roughly $15,000 up front. That means the additional cost of a cleaning robot is some $35,000 before accounting for maintenance. Labor costs vary based on geography, but on average, U.S. building cleaning workers are paid $27,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning the investment in a robot should pay off in two years.”
While it is taking a different market approach, Avidbots is competing directly with Brain Corp., the San Diego-based company backed by the Softbank Vision Fund. Avidbots is building both Neo’s hardware and software, but Brain is focusing solely on autonomous navigation software, retrofitting manually-driven commercial floor cleaners with its BrainOS platform.
Brain already has partnerships with several major commercial floor cleaning companies, including International Cleaning Equipment, Minuteman International, NSS Enterprises, and Tennant. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, also recently rolled out 360 Brain-powered floor-cleaning robots in stores across the US. Avidbots said its customers include Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Toronto’s Eaton Centre mall, and Rochester Institute of Technology. To date, Neo has cleaned over half a billion square feet of floor space.
The commercial floor cleaning market accounts for an estimated $5 billion in global sales annually.
“We invest in industrial automation and robotics companies that have thought deeply about which types of work are best suited for machines,” said Rohit Sharma, partner at True Ventures. “Repetitive, tedious work like commercial floor cleaning is an effective area of initial focus and we’re thrilled to support Faizan and his team as they pioneer this space.”
Avidbots’ last funding round was a $3 million Series A in May 2018. Stay tuned for our recap of March 2019 robotics investments and, in the meantime, check out our February 2019 investment recap that totaled $4.3 billion.