Wavemaker Labs and C3 Form Joint Venture to Launch Nommi, a Full Autonomous Kitchen Kiosk

The new company also launching equity crowdfunding campaign to raise $20 million.

Automation startup incubator Wavemaker Labs and virtual restaurant platform C3 announced today that they are partnering to launch Nommi, a new fully automated kitchen kiosk. Nommi will be a joint venture between Wavemaker and C3, and will be run by Wavemaker Founder and CEO, Buck Jordan.

The Nommi bot will be a fully robotic standalone kitchen that will make grain-, noodle- or lettcue-based dishes in as little as three minutes. The machine itself is 15 ft. wide, 7 ft. deep and 8 ft. 6 in. tall, carries 48 ingredients (including sauces) and can hold 330 bowls + lids. The Nommi even sports a cute puck-like robot that slides and spins under ingredient dispensers to ensure even distribution. Once a meal is prepared, it’s held in its own locker to be picked up by the customer via unique QR code.

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The joint venture will marry Wavemaker’s expertise in food robotics and automation with the restaurant operations and scaling chops of C3, which already operates more than 40 culinary brands. Fruits of this joint venture will first come to market via an initial pilot with with “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto’s Sa’Moto restaurant brand.

“I think one of the biggest mistakes that food robot startups make is that they try to they try to build a world class technology and a world class [food] brand, and those are two exactly opposite things,” Jordan told me via video chat last week. “I'd rather partner with someone like Morimoto and let [C3 Founder and Head] Sam Nazarian find incredible brands that fit my product.”

As part of today’s announcement, C3 is placing a non-binding pre-order for 1,000 Nommi units. Beta units are projected to arrive sometime next year to get in front of potential customers, with scaling and manufacturing to ramp up in 2023.

To help the new venture reach its production goals, the company is looking to raise $20 million in equity crowdfunding. The campaign is taking reservations right now and will kick off in earnest next year.

Nommi is an interesting move from Wavemaker for a few reasons. It’s the incubator’s first foray into a more general purpose cooking robot. Other robots in Wavemaker portfolios are mono-taskers, making pizza or boba tea or working a fryer. Nommi aims to have its one robot make a variety of dishes and cuisines (Jordan even mentioned sushi offhandedly during our conversation).

Nommi, however is entering an increasingly crowded space. Mezli, SJW Robotics, RobotEatz, Aitme and Karakuri are all autonomous kitchens meant to serve a variety of different meals. They are all at different stages of coming to market, but we’ll start seeing deployments next year.

Another reason to take note of Nommi is this is the second Wavemaker company to form a joint venture with a food brand in as many weeks. Last week robot pizza vending startup Piestro partnered up with the 800 Degrees restaurant chain to form 800° GO. The new venture augments the previous co-branding relationship between the two announced in August, and it is launching its own equity crowdfunding campaign to raise $10 million.

Should these joint ventures work out (and not suffer from too many cooks in the robot-powered kitchen), I presume we’ll see more joint ventures for other Wavemaker companies like Bobacino and lay a blueprint for future startups as well as a big new food/drink brand partnership can help give these automation companies a second bite at the crowdfunding apple.

If you are interested in learning more about Nommi’s crowdfunding campaign, you can visit nommi.com. (This is neither financial advice nore a recommendation).