Warehouse robotics company Attabotics is no longer a startup with a couple nerds working in a room together, as founder and CEO Scott Gravelle described it. A new round of funding speaks to that evolution.
Attabotics, based in Calgary, said Tuesday it closed on $71.7 million in Series C-1 funding. The raise was led by Export Development Canada (EDC) and included the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board’s Teachers’ Innovation Platform.
The funding brings Attabotics’ total raised to date to $165.1 million.
“We started six-and-a-half years ago with an idea. We’ve been developing the idea, commercializing the idea. Now, it’s time to grow the idea,” Gravelle said in a call with Sourcing Journal. “At each stage of the company, we’ve looked for the right kind of support for the stage that we’re at.”
Put simply, Attabotics is continuing to grow and the funding will help with that expansion, Gravelle said, even as funding slows in line with the broader economy.
“We are experiencing probably the most challenging funding environment for business that we’ve seen in a very, very long time,” Gravelle said. “And I’m really proud of the team and the work that they’ve done to secure funding because I know a lot of companies at a similar stage to ours are not being able to. So it’s a great vote of confidence for us that, whether it be Covid or inflationary pressures or a recession, that our tech has a great deal of value to our clients and, therefore, we’re still seeing the interest in our business to grow.”
Guillermo Freire, senior vice president of EDC’s mid-market group, said “forward-thinking” Attabotics has built technology that helps to “address global supply chain challenges.”
Attabotics, which counts about 300 employees, touts a warehouse system that’s built vertically, where storage units are serviced by robot pickers. Those robots then shuttle product to stations where humans work. Attabotics said its technology allows companies to cut their warehouse footprints by as much as 85 percent.
Among the recent wins for the company’s technology was the attention it attracted from the U.S. Department of Defense and accounting and advisory firm KPMG LLP, which enlisted the company to help build what Gravelle called “the warehouse of the future.”
KPMG is building out a prototype warehouse in Albany, Ga., which is part of the Department of Defense’s 5G-to-Next G program aimed at studying 5G technologies.
Attabotics is also in the final stages of talks with U.S. brands in the apparel space, Gravelle noted.
The company in September hit a milestone with the release of the Attabot 2022, the first commercialized version of its warehouse robot.
The Attabot 2022 isn’t necessarily any different from what’s currently on the market in terms of what it can do, although it does use fewer parts. Early customers have been using a prototype version of the technology, so the launch largely marks a new phase in Attabotics’ maturity as a company servicing brands and retailers in the apparel, food and beverage and home goods industries.
It’s a mixed bag in terms of what Attabotics is seeing from customers using its technology as the economic environment continues to shift.
Each client of Attabotics is at different stages of its business, Gravelled pointed out. Some come to the company looking to squeeze greater efficiencies out of their real estate. Still others turn to Attabotics looking to use warehouse automation to combat inflation in real estate and labor costs. Then there’s the group that built out digital strategies during the pandemic that have seen some slowdown, Gravelle described of what he’s seeing with the company’s clients.
“We’re preparing conservatively for the next little while, but the scale of the business for us is going to continue to ramp up,” Gravelle said. “Everyone’s being cautious and that’s the one thing I can say around all of our customer conversations is that there’s a layer of caution there, but they’re trying to solve for different things.”
The CEO does see a difference in the outlooks for holiday between companies that have strong digital businesses with access to inventory and those that aren’t as agile.
“We generally end up talking to the more forward-thinking organizations and I think flexibility and agility [have] been key to the companies that are going to be successful through Covid and now this—whatever we’re calling it [economically],” Gravelle said. “So, the ones that can capitalize, are.”