2023's Most Unexpected Developments
AI breakthroughs, fundraising troubles and robotic revolutions
2023 was a momentous year for food automation and restaurant robotics. Instead of recapping the biggest moments of the past 12 months (that’s what our archive is for) we decided to ask the experts. So, hear what the top tech tinkerers, venture capitalists, foodservice leaders, CEOs and founders say when asked “what was the most interesting or unexpected development in 2023?
OttOmate will be taking a brief break for the holidays, and then returning with some bold predictions for 2024.
Want to make *our* holiday extra special? Refer this newsletter to a few friends or industry colleagues, or consider upgrading to a premium subscription.
Amodini Chhabra - Director, Compass Digital Ventures:
“In 2023, an unexpected yet significant development occurred in the Food retail and restaurant sector with the integration of Fintech. Beyond advancements in AI and Gen AI, Fintech played a key role, particularly in enhancing payment channels for both customers and businesses. This shift enabled faster transactions, improved loyalty programs, and more efficient employee payment processes.
The impact of Fintech wasn't limited to the front-end customer experience. It extended to employee management, offering innovative solutions for quick and seamless payroll processing, ultimately contributing to higher employee retention rates. Additionally, the introduction of embedded finance solutions revolutionized financial processes for restaurants, distributors, and suppliers, streamlining operations and supporting data-driven decision-making. This shift is unlocking new opportunities in the food retail business.”
Alex Cree - Co-Founder, Baozza:
“2023 seemed to be the year that startup founders finally made it to the ‘acceptance’ stage of losing easy access to capital, likely for a long time. This means 2023 has been a year of retooling, rebuilding, and generally resetting business goals and strategies to deal with an environment that demands profitability and sound business fundamentals over rapid growth. Call it ‘The Big Reset’ for entrepreneurs and builders who’ve managed to hang on and not go under.”
Darian Ahler - Former Head of Product Strategy, Vebu Labs & CEO, Bobacino:
“We are beginning to see a ‘Food/Tech singularity’ where restaurant chains are branding themselves as tech companies and tech companies in adjacent (or even unrelated) verticals have started playing in the food space. On the restaurant side we saw this with Sweetgreen launching their first "Infinite Kitchen" outside Chicago. More recently we saw CloudKitchen's announcement of their very own Lab37 Bowl Builder. On the other side, you're seeing companies like Kiosoft (an unattended payments solution) launch things like the KioCafe. I have talked with a number of other established tech companies that are looking at the F&B industry as a new market to apply their existing products and add a new revenue stream.”
Clayton Wood - Venture Partner, Redstick Ventures & Former CEO, Picnic:
“New developments in AI portend a legitimate breakthrough in food automation. Traditionally automation has either been very expensive general purpose versatile robotics, or very limited simple automation that can only handle highly constrained use-cases. The promise that AI brings is to power inexpensive simple hardware with intelligent control systems to perform unconstrained use cases. Over the next few years that combination will significantly increase the value and reduce both R&D costs and deployment pricing.”
What do you think was the biggest development in 2023? Sound off in the comments below, or shoot an email to email@example.com
OttOmate is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.