Autonomus robot delivery startup Starship announced today that it has raised a $40 million Series A round of funding. The round was led by Morpheus Ventures with participation from prior investors including Shasta Ventures, Matrix Partners, MetaPlanet Holdings, as well as new investors including TDK Ventures, Qu Ventures and others. This brings the total amount raised by Starship to $85 million.
That news alone would be worthy of a story, but Starship upped the ante by also announcing that its rover bots arrived today at the campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and Indiana’s Purdue University in order to prepare to make food deliveries on both campuses in September. These new schools join George Mason University and Northern Arizona University, which launched their own robot delivery programs with Starship earlier this year, and are a step in Starship’s plan (also announced today) to be on 100 college campuses over the next two years.
Students, faculty, staff and whomever else on these school campuses are able to get robot delivery by downloading the Starship mobile app. Users choose from the restaurant and food options, order and pay (there’s a $1.99 delivery fee) to have their snacks, meals or groceries dropped off at any location on campus.
Starship’s robots have proven to be such big ‘bots on campus that the company said in today’s press release emailed to The Spoon that both George Mason and Northern Arizona have increased the number of delivery robots (George Mason actually doubled its fleet), as well as their hours of operation.
Serving colleges is a popular go-to market strategy for delivery robot startups. Earlier this summer, Kiwi announced it was expanding its robot delivery to fifteen colleges including Harvard, Stanford and… Purdue.
Obviously that last one is of interest, given Starship’s announcement today. When asked about Kiwi’s potential presence at Purdue, Starship provided us with the following statement: “Starship is looking forward to launching on Purdue University on September 9. The delivery robots are currently mapping the area and can’t wait to start serving students and staff in September. We look forward to sharing more details shortly.”
We’ve reached out to Kiwi to see if Purdue is still indeed on their rollout roadmap, but regardless of whether Purdue doubles up on robots or has quietly dropped Kiwi, the situation highlights how colleges will be a battleground for delivery robot services. Starship’s fresh $40 million certainly gives it a bigger warchest to woo universities than Kiwi, which has only raised $2 million to date.
Starship says it will use the new funding to “rapidly expand its services to more university campuses,” so a delivery battle is definitely brewing. The company already has a good track record: Starship says its robots have traveled more than 350,000 miles, crossed 4M streets, and have completed more than 100,000 autonomous deliveries.