Let’s just get this out of the way: “robo-boba” is fun (if slightly difficult) to say out loud. But it’s a phrase you could be saying it a lot more if Bobacino has its way. Today the company took the wraps off its eponymous boba tea-making robot kiosk and launched an equity crowdfunding campaign to help bring it to market.
Bobacino is currently in the prototype stage, and uses an articulating arm to mix one recipe of tea, sweetened milk, syrup and tapioca balls over ice to make its boba tea. Future versions of the machine will be able to create multiple recipes.
That’s where the equity crowdfunding campaign comes. Bobacino is looking to raise $3 million from everyday investors starting in January of 2021. Money raised will help the Santa Monica, CA-based company further develop its robo-boba and bring it to market in the second half of 2021.
Bobacino is backed by Wavemaker Partners and Embark Ventures. Sharp-eyed Spoon readers will recognize Wavemaker from its backing of Piestro, which makes a standalone robotic pizza vending machine. (For more on the future of vending machines, check out The Great Vending Reinvention: The Spoon’s Smart Vending Machine Market Report.)
Like Piestro, Bobacino has a two-pronged business model that involves both owning and operating its own machines as well as co-branding with existing boba tea brands.
In addition to the assist from Wavemaker, Bobacino has its own pedigree in automated drink vending. Bobacino Founder and CEO, Darian Ahler, previously co-founded and was head of operations at Truebird, the NYC-based robotic coffee kiosk company.
The fact that Bobacino exists shows how the robotic vending space is maturing and already becoming thinly sliced. Unlike previous robot beverage companies like Cafe X and Briggo (which was acquired by Costa Coffee) that made a wide variety of coffee and tea drinks, Bobacino is only making boba tea drinks. Add Blendid’s robot smoothie maker to the mix and it’s pretty easy to envision hospital lobbies, airports (you know, after the pandemic), and even grocery stores installing a variety of these machines to offer a bevvy of different beverages (which is also fun to say out loud).