The winner of the 2023 Kitchen Innovations Award at the National Restaurant Association Show, Aniai, has successfully secured a $12 million pre-Series A funding round.
Founded in 2020, Aniai is developing a robotic solution for cooking hamburgers. Its flagship product, ‘Alpha Grill,’ leverages robotics for efficient hamburger cooking, boasting a double-sided grill that can cook up to eight patties simultaneously or 200 patties per hour.
“This capital infusion will help our mission to improve kitchen productivity through robotics and automation while helping us ramp-up production to meet current and future demand. Additionally, Aniai plans to augment its robotic solutions by adding advanced, cloud-based, AI software to further enhance the capabilities and performance of the Alpha Grill early this year, which will benefit new and existing Aniai customers,” said Gunpil Hwang, CEO and co-Founder of Aniai.
When Alpha Grill is deployed in a kitchen, restaurant brands can streamline operations by eliminating repetitive tasks associated with hamburger patty cooking tasks such as pressing and flipping.
The upcoming software release for Alpha Grill will include a feature that will employ AI to discern the color of the hamburger patties and assess their quality through real-time vision sensors during the cooking process. For instance, if a hamburger patty does not meet brand’s cooking specifications and requirements, the Alpha Grill promptly notifies the cooking staff, ensuring rigorous and enhanced quality control. The latest cloud-based, AI feature from Aniai will make its debut at the National Restaurant Association Show, an industry leading foodservice trade show, in May.
The round includes investments from new investors, such as SV Investment and UK-based Ignite Innovation, as well as from an existing investor, Capstone Partners. This most recent investment brings Aniai’s total funding to date to $15 million.
Investing in Manufacturing
Aniai will fast-track the launch of its first dedicated manufacturing facility called Factory One in South Korea to help ensure stable production and supply chain management for Alpha Grill, aligning with its ongoing North American and global expansion efforts. Aniai’s Factory One has the capacity to produce over 1,000 Alpha Grill units per year.
Aniai, headquartered in New York City, has been piloting Alpha Grill with several leading North American hamburger brands since Q3 2023, targeting multiple implementations and initial rollouts within the next twelve months. The company has already successfully deployed Alpha Grill to seven South Korean hamburger franchises, including DOWN TOWNER, BAS Burger, CJ Freshway, and Mom's Touch. Furthermore, Aniai has recently announced new partnership with Lotteria, Teisty Burger, and Fault Burger, securing 500 Alpha Grill pre-orders for delivery beginning early in Q1 of 2024.
In 2023, Aniai secured a $3 million seed round investment led by Capstone Partners and Lotte Ventures.