Reach Robotics closes $7.5M Series A for its augmented reality bots

After years of research and development, Reach
has closed a $7.5 million Series A, co-led
by Korea Investment Partners (KiP) and
IGlobe, to bring its augmented reality bots to
market in a big way. The Bristol-based startup is looking to
expand into the U.S. and the team is exploring opportunities
for growth into other European and Asian markets.

Reach Robotics first product, MekaMon, launched last fall.

Today’s round comes after the company produced and sold an
initial run of 500 of its four-legged, crab-like, bots. MekaMon
fits into an emerging category of smartphone-enabled augmented
reality toys like Anki.

Silas Adekunle, CEO of Reach Robotics, tells me that the influx
of capital will be used to make some strategic hires and to
increase brand recognition through marketing. This is the first
time the startup has announced a funding round. Adekunle tells
me that his experience raising capital wasn’t easy — as they
say — hardware is hard.

“It was hard to pitch in our early days because people didn’t
believe,” explained Adekunle.

MekaMon sits somewhere between toy and full-fledged robot.
Unlike the radio-controlled Radio Shack robots of yesteryear,
MekaMon costs a hefty $329. At first glance this can be hard to
swallow, but Adekunle remains adamant that he is building a
platform and not a line of toys — think PS4 instead of
expensive, single-use, robot collecting dust on a shelf.

Outside of retail sales, another avenue for the company to make
money is through partnerships within the entertainment
industry. Adekunle says that Reach would never go out of its
way to deliver a specific product for a client, but he always
keeps an eye out for overlap where a partnership could occur
with minimal operational changes.

“People are taken aback that something could be this
realistic,” asserts Adekunle. “If you strip back the product
and lose that, then you don’t have an innovative company.”

Because Reach is selling software enabled hardware, it has the
opportunity to collect all sorts of interesting data that it
can use to fine-tune its products. The startup is able to track
retention in aggregate and look at how people actually use
their robots. Moreover, if MekaMon suffers leg failure, Reach
can analyze indicators like temperature readings and torque.

Adekunle insists on keeping the Reach Robotics team
interdisciplinary — one employee helped shape the way robots
move in the Transformers movie series. This same team is
focused on empowering the next group of developers who will
build on the MekaMon platform and create new use cases, beyond
the company’s initial vision for the product.

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