Chipotle Takes My Advice, Invests in Hyphen
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Chipotle’s Invests in Robotic Makeline
Will you indulge a small victory lap here?
This past April Chipotle announced that it was forming Cultivate Next, a venture fund that would invest in “seed to Series B stage companies that can accelerate the Company's strategic priorities such as running great restaurants, amplifying technology and innovation, further advancing its Food With Integrity mission, and expanding access and convenience for consumers.”
The same day Cultivate Next was announced, I wrote a post suggesting three companies it should invest in, one of which was Hyphen. Today the prophecy was fulfilled (cue lightning bolts flashing in the sky) — Cultivate Next announced it has invested in Hyphen, the amount and terms of the investment were not made public.
For those unfamiliar with Hyphen, the company makes, Makeline. Ugh. This gets confusing sometimes because I have to use the term “makeline” a lot, but here’s a brief primer. Hyphen’s Makeline is doubles the output of a traditional makeline by adding a robotic layer underneath all those makeline ingredients. The best way to think about it is actually to think about Chipotle. When you order in person, a Chipotle staffer walks down the counter (the makeline) with you, adding all the stuff you want.
With Hyphen’s Makeline, that same person is there, but underneath, a robotic system pulls from those same ingredients to fulfill digital orders simultaneously. Twice the output in the same footprint. SMART!
Here’s what I wrote back in April about why Chipotle should invest in Hyphen.
Why invest? Coming in so late [Hyphen had raised a $24M Series A] would be the priciest investment option for Cultivate Next, but Chipotle is kind of a dream use case for Hyphen’s Makeline. Adding the automation part to take care of digital orders — without needing to entirely rebuild the kitchen or adjust staffer workflow — would improve accuracy and efficiency at stores.
Listen, I realize that there are a lot of smart people at Cultivate Next and I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who thought of this deal. But I do have my receipts, as it were. Now Chipotle just needs to invest in Now Cuisine and Dexai for me to get the hat trick.
I should also note that is the second robotic deal for Chipotle, which is also trialing Miso’s
Flippy Chippy to automate frying tortilla chips.
Meet Piestro. The compact, virtually labor-free, robotic pizza pod that fits almost anywhere (think: airports, universities, malls, etc.) is a money-saver compared to the traditional restaurant model:
Cooks round-the-clock, 24/7
Nominal labor and real estate costs = 3X higher profits
All the same quality ingredients
Piestro already has $580M in pre-orders! Invest before July 28th.
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Hope you’re having a great day.