Blendid Whips Up $2 Million in Crowdfunding for its Autonomous Robot Smoothie Kiosk
In addition to money, crowdfunding has boosted the company's sales funnel.
Blendid, which makes an autonomous robotic smoothie kiosk, announced today that it has closed its equity crowdfunding campaign, having successfully raised $2 million from 1,475 individual investors. Between crowdfunding, strategic investments and traditional venture capital, Blendid has raised $20 million to date.
Covahne Michaels, Vice President of Marketing for Blendid told me by phone this week that the crowdfunding campaign was actually oversubscribed by 20 percent. Michaels said that because of financial regulations, Blendid had to close the campaign when it hit its target, with an additional $400,000 left on the table.
It’s easy to see how Blendid’s machine could catch on with consumer investors. The Blendid kiosk is a self-contained station that uses an articulating arm to make smoothies — and who doesn’t love smoothies? Plus, it’s a contactless experience for these COVID times, with mobile ordering and no human hands touching your drink. The company has installed its smoothie-bot at a Walmart in Fremont, California, co-branded a machine with Jamba Juice, and last month announced that it was expanding into Southern California and Georgia.
In addition to the crowdfunding, Blendid said it “signed a commercial agreement with a major commercial food service operator, which also made a strategic investment in the company, to help scale its manufacturing and operations” in today’s press announcement. The commercial food service went unnamed and the investment was not part of the crowdfunding total, but all of the capital raised will help Blendid expand its footprint nationally.
Equity crowdfunding, where institutional money is eschewed in favor of money from everyday investors, has become particularly popular with food automation and robotic startups:
This summer, Small Robot Company, which makes agricultural robots in the UK, raised more than £4 million (~ $5M USD) from its second equity crowdfunding campaign
Part of cashierless checkout company Zippin’s recent $30 million Series B was through equity crowdfunding
Basil Street is running a crowdfunding campaign to raise $20 million for its pizza vending machine
The knock against crowdfunding is that it’s for companies that can’t raise money through traditional channels. Hardware is expensive to build and more importantly scale, and VCs aren’t super excited to throw a ton of capital at a young category that hasn’t proven itself yet.
But there are a few counter arguments you hear from startups who do equity crowdfund. First, crowd money comes without the same pressures to get to market and scale that traditional VC money comes with. Second, in addition to raising funds, crowdfunding creates an army of evangelists. Blendid now has 1,475 people who will spread the word about the company, buy smoothies and post them on Instagram and could even act as scouts for potential locations.
Crowdfunding, however, wasn’t just a hit with everyday folks, Michaels said it also helped with the company’s sales funnel. “Crowdfunding has substantially increased our brand awareness among consumers and operators,” Michaels said, “Our pipeline of prospective partners has gone through the roof.”