The stealthy Seattle-based food automation venture formerly known as Otto Robotics has a new name: Vivid Robotics.
It also has a fresh infusion of $4.9 million in funding, thanks to an investment round reported today in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
And it has a fresh vision that could well extend beyond robotic food preparation, according to co-founder and CEO Garett Ochs. That’s one of the big reasons for the name change.
“We’re going to be creating products for food, and we’re also going to be creating other things,” Ochs told GeekWire. “We wanted to do rebranding so we are set up for a more streamlined approach to a divergent future.”
Ochs said the latest funding round was led by Vulcan Capital, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s investment channel, with other as-yet-undisclosed investors also participating. Vulcan and Draper Associates took part in the two-year-old startup’s $1.5 million seed investment round last year.
The SEC filing said that 19 investors have participated in the latest offering, and that $1.4 million of the $6.3 million in offered equity remained to be sold.
The newly reported funding will help Vivid Robotics get ready for prime time. Details about the startup’s business model are scant, but Ochs said the initial focus will be on food.
“The analogy that I like to use is, Henry Ford invented the assembly line, and Toyota perfected it,” Ochs said. “McDonald’s invented the quick-service restaurant, and we’d like to perfect it. … We would like to be the Toyota of this technology.”
The Vivid brand wouldn’t be reflected in what customers actually consume. Rather, the technology could be applied to different types of branded food, or even to non-food items manufactured using Vivid’s approach to automation. A similar strategy is used by Yum! Brands, the fast-food conglomerate that operates Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and WingStreet.
Ochs said “we do have customers in line” for the technology. He declined to name them, however, due to proprietary concerns.
For the same reason, he held back from saying how many employees are currently on Vivid’s team. But he did say Vivid Robotics is hiring.
“Anybody who is innately fascinated by automation, and especially alleviating humankind from incredibly boring and repetitive tasks … that is who we are,” he said.
For now, Vivid’s website is nothing but a home page with an email link, and Otto Robotics’ website no longer exists. Job listings aren’t yet being posted online. But Ochs said would-be job applicants can get in touch with him by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.