Hease Robotics, the French developer of the Heasy robot for retail and customer service, shut down on November 7, 2019. In an announcement on LinkedIn, Co-founder Jade Le Maitre said the company’s “offices, production facilities and stockpiles” were destroyed in a fire at Bel-Air Camp on October 8.
Le Maitre said the damages caused by the fire were estimated at more than one million euros ($1.1 million), “plunging [Hease Robotics] immediately into a state of insolvency.”
Although the fire appears to have been the final straw, Le Maitre acknowledged growing pains along the way. She said the company’s cash flow was tight, but that a new funding round was planned for the end of the year. Le Maitre even wrote the struggles the company went through “made us wonder about the maturity of our market and the role and place of robots in society.”
“Unfortunately, the fire we have suffered has cut short our business and the interests of customers and investors,” she wrote. “There is far too much to rebuild.”
Hease Robotics was founded in November 2016. The Heasy robot debuted at CES 2017 and commercial production started at the beginning of 2019.
For the time being, the Heasy robots out in the world will continue to function, Le Maitre said. MJ Synergie is handling the bankruptcy, but Le Maitre said they are “waiting for a possible new start for the Heasy robot and the innovations created by Hease Robotics.”
Bel-Air Camp, an incubator that was home to 50-plus startups and small and medium-sized businesses focused on augmented reality, e-commerce, robotics and more, opened in 2016. The fire reportedly didn’t cause any injuries. More than 100 firefighters and 30 vehicles were mobilized to battle the fire.
Read the full announcement from Le Maitre below:
“After 3 years of activity and 9 months after the start of the commercialization of its Heasy hosting robot, the company Hease Robotics was placed in bankruptcy on November 7, 2019.
“The company Hease Robotics, founded in November 2016 by Max Vallet, president, and Jade Le Maitre, technical director, aimed to revolutionize the information terminal market with its HEASY robot.
“Unveiled at the CES in Las Vegas in January 2017, the robot has quickly proven itself with major international accounts such as total, Leclerc, Vinci or the SNCF. A fundraiser from private investors had allowed the industrialization of the product at the beginning of the year 2019.
“Heasy was able to be deployed in a dozen Leclerc shopping centers, at the group reception such as Interpol or as a guide in the Lascaux caves.
“Like many startups, the company’s cash flow has been in a tight state throughout these different phases. A new round of funding was planned for the end of 2019 to meet new objectives, including the design of a robot guide for public spaces.
“The terrible fire, which occurred at Bel-Air Camp on October 8th, destroyed all of Hease Robotics’ offices, production facilities and stockpiles, placing a team of 15 people out of work and cutting off any source of revenue, from sales and services overnight.
“Damages for the company alone are estimated at more than one million euros, plunging it immediately into a state of insolvency.
“The difficulties of this year 2019 have made us wonder about the maturity of our market and the role and place of robots in society. Unfortunately, the fire we have suffered has cut short our business and the interests of customers and investors: there is far too much to rebuild, and the health of society was already fragile.
“We had an incredible adventure. We sincerely thank our teams, all our partners, our customers, our investors, as well as every person who took part in the project, from near and far. Adds Max Vallet and Jade The Master.
“The company’s robots continue to function, waiting for a possible new start for the Heasy robot and the innovations created by Hease Robotics. The management was placed with the agent MJ Synergie, in LYON. 136 Lafayette courses, in Lyon.”