Miso Robotics, the company behind Flippy, the burger grilling, tater tot frying robot, announced today that it is kicking off its equity crowdfunding campaign to raise a $30 million Series C round.
Equity crowdfunding eschews traditional institutional funding such as venture capital and allows everyday people to invest directly in a company. In the case of Miso, a minimum investment of $1,493 per investor is required in order to participate. (And we should interject that any investment is a risk and this post is not an endorsement of Miso.)
Miso announced the equity crowdfunding campaign back in November, but it still required SEC approval before it could officially begin. According to the press announcement emailed to us, Miso says it has already secured $2.6 million in reservations with a pre-money valuation of $80 million.
Earlier this year, Miso introduced its newest generation of Flippy, the ROAR, which has the robot suspended on rails above a cooking space to make more room for any human co-workers.
This jump into equity crowdfunding comes at an interesting time, to say the least. The world is in the throes of a global pandemic that is costing millions of jobs, has sent the stock market reeling and is creating even new levels of uncertainty. How many everyday people impacted by COVID-19 are going to have the money to plunk down at minimum of $1,500 to own a small part of a robot company?
Not to mention the fact that a big driver of food automation in restaurants was a labor crunch. With an estimated 3 percent of US restaurants permanently closed, there will be a lot of human workers suddenly available once this pandemic passes.
On the other hand, the coronavirus outbreak and fear of human-to-human transmission of the virus is sparking all kinds of change throughout the food system. In a post-corona world, robots that prepare food could be seen as a way to make restaurants more hygienic. This, in turn, could spark a boom in food robotics.
Equity crowdfunding has become a bit of a trend in the food tech world. Other companies like Winc, Small Robot Company, GOffee and GoSun have all turned to the everyday investor for their latest rounds of funding. On one level, it provides them with the flexibility to grow as they like without added pressure from scale-seeking VCs, but it also denies companies the networks and knowledge VCs can provide.
Miso has made its choice, and now we’ll see if everyday investors flip for Flippy the robot.