Rapid Robotics announced a $12 million Series A all the way back in April 2021. Four months later, the Bay Area-based robotic manufacturing firm is back with a $36.7 million Series B, led by Kleiner Perkins and Tiger Global. The round, which also features existing investors NEA, Greycroft, Bee Partners and 468 Capital, brings the company’s total funding up to $54.2 million.
The funding values the startup at $192.5 million -- an impressive figure for a firm that was raising its seed in 2020. The Series B is Rapid’s third (!) in less than a year, no doubt spurred on by the immense interest in robotics and automation being fueled by a seemingly endless global pandemic.
As companies look for alternatives to “non-essential” workers, investments in these technologies have only accelerated. Manufacturing bottlenecks throughout the pandemic have also brought into sharp focus the need for flexible and global production.
Rapid’s value prop is a Rapid Machine Operator (RMO) robot that can be deployed in a manufacturing setting in a matter of hours, without the need for programming and other robotics knowledge. The system is available under the RaaS (robotics as a service) model for $25,000 a year. The system is flexible and can be assigned various tasks -- a nice feature for companies that can’t afford devoted systems.
“We hear a lot about the semiconductor shortage, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Contract manufacturers can’t produce gaskets, vials, labels — you name it,” CEO Jordan Kretchmer said in a release tied to the news. “I’ve seen cases where the inability to produce a single piece of U-shaped black plastic brought an entire auto line to a halt.”
Automotive is a target for Rapid, though the company notes that Bay Area-based health company TruePill is now employing its systems to fill and label prescription bottles.