Serve Robotics CEO on the Advantages of Being First in Los Angeles

A Q&A with Ali Kashani about the Uber Eats deal, data and David Chang.

Serve Robotics announced a partnership with Uber Eats yesterday that will have the two offering robot-powered food delivery in Los Angeles next year.

Serve Robotics has been on the robot delivery scene in one form or another in Los Angeles for years now. The Serve robot first debuted as part of Postmates back in December 2018. After Postmates was acquired by Uber in 2020, Serve Robotics was spun out as an independent startup in March of this year.

But as Serve Robotics Co-Fouder and CEO, Ali Kashani explained to me via video chat yesterday, all that time on the streets has given Serve a ton of data about the City of Angels. Data that will help it better compete as other robot delivery players like Kiwibot, Ottonomy and Coco flock to that market.

Following is my Q&A with Kashani (lightly edited for clarity and concision), where he talks about the Uber Eats deal, the state of robot regulation, and his reactions to being on David Chang’s The Next Thing You Eat.

OttOmate: Can you provide some more details about the Uber Eats deal?

Kashani: It's just the first step of many. We are we're starting in LA. but of course, our goal as service is to expand nationally. We started with Postmates customers over three years ago, as you know, in Hollywood. We got a permit to operate in West Hollywood, and we've been slowly expanding over there. This is just another natural step in the process so that we can reach more customers, and we are going to keep growing the neighborhoods and operating areas.

LA is a really an exciting place to be. I've been told there's a song that says “Nobody Walks in LA” (80s pop music ed. note: he’s referring to Walking in LA by Missing Persons). So that what probably describes it. It's an incredible amount of demand that is I think, probably the second largest market in the country. And it's just perfect for robots. And we saw something there many years ago. We started inside this industry, so we had access to the data, we picked LA because of that reason, I guess everybody else is now catching up with that fact.

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