Grubhub Boards Starship
And Karakuri shows off its FRYR bot.
Grubhub and Starship Head to College
Grubhub is now using Starship’s robots to make food deliveries at the University of Kentucky, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Wayne State University, Southern Methodist University and Fairfield University, the two companies announced this week.
I bring up this deal for two reasons:
This is the second delivery robot partnership for Grubhub, which also partnered with Cartken in June of this year for college deliveries.
This could signal a shift in strategy for Starship, which has had to pull back some of its offerings this year.
To the first point, it’s not too surprising that Grubhub would have multiple robot delivery partners. Grubhub provides meal deliveries to more than 250 college campuses across the U.S. This week’s deal alone reaches 170,000 potential student customers.
(Insert quick reminder that Grubhub had initially partnered with Russia-based Yandex, but had to drop that deal after Russia invaded Ukraine.)
Cartken is still a young pup of a startup and doesn’t have the scale to quickly reach the 250 colleges in Grubhub’s network. But then again, neither does Starship, really. Per the press announcement, Starship said it has a “global fleet of 2,000 robots.” Typically Starship deploys 25 robots per school (though that number may vary). At that rate, Starship would need another 4,250 robots to accommodate all of Grubhub’s clients. That’s a lot of robots.
I checked in with Cartken, which said that it was indeed still working with Grubhub, so it’s not hard to imagine Grubhub signing up even more partners (Kiwibot, Coco, Serve, etc.) if these robot delivery programs prove popular with starving college students.
The other part of this deal worth noting is the potential shift in strategy for Starship. Grubhub describes itself as a food ordering and delivery marketplace. In addition to the robot hardware Starship has traditionally offered its own marketplace for food ordering as well — students would download and use the Starship app to order food. It would be really weird for Grubhub to cede that order placement relationship (and its core business) over to Starship.
Could this signal a change in strategy for Starship? Despite raising nearly $100 million in funding this year (and $200M in total), Starship has pulled back on some of its businesses — getting out of Northern California and even laying off staff. Will we see them move from a full-stack delivery provider to more of a straight “powered by” hardware play?
Economic turmoil around the world has definitely hit the food automation market, and we’ll see all kinds of early players adapting to survive.
Karakuri Shows Off its FRYR
Earlier this week, Karakuri officially announced its FRYR deep frying robot. Here are the details per the company:
Produces up to 130lbs/60kg of french fries per hour
It can be installed overnight with no interruption to kitchen ops
It increases oil life and reduces energy usage, which helps keep costs down. something particularly of concern as food costs continue to spiral.
Cost of the new machine is from $2,100 per month - with Karakuri offering a new approach to Robot-as-a-Service model to make it affordable to automate commercial kitchens
I wrote about Karakuri’s move in the broader context of the robo-frying market earlier this year, which you can check out here: