A robot pizza delivery startup that raised nearly half a billion dollars has closed due to technological setbacks. The company, Zume, Inc., had been working on developing a mobile pizza-making machine for years.
There’s big money in future pizza
The failure is surprising, considering the substantial amount of investment capital it received. But this helps highlight the ongoing challenges faced by practical robotics ventures.
One of the key hurdles faced by the robot pizza startup was the difficulty of building a reliable mechanical pizzaiolo. The company struggled for years to prevent melting cheese from sliding off the pizzas while they were being baked in their moving trucks. But this posed too significant of an obstacle. The cheese won.
Does robot pizza have a future?
Interestingly, the robot pizza industry is larger than one might assume. There are several Silicon Valley companies working on automating the pizza-making process. For instance, Stellar Pizza, founded by former SpaceX engineers, is developing a robot capable of making dough, rolling it out, applying various toppings, and baking the pizza.
However, the ambitions of these companies are not focused on recreating the experience of a traditional Italian pizza fresh out of the oven. Instead, they aim to compete with established pizza chains like Domino’s, targeting a more mass-market audience.
The shutdown of Zume Inc. serves as a cautionary tale in the world of venture investing – and of pizza. Even with significant funding and promising technological ideas, execution and overcoming practical challenges remain critical. This robot pizza startup emphasizes the challenges of trying to merge robotics and culinary endeavors and the difficulties inherent in translating innovative concepts into viable and successful businesses.
Zume Inc. has reportedly engaged the services of Sherwood Partners, a restructuring firm, to facilitate the sale of its assets. The company’s decision to wind down its operations reflects the reality of its financial situation and the inability to sustain its business model in a competitive market.
In the meantime, we’ll just have to appreciate the world’s pizza-makers even more. At least they can keep the cheese in place!
Source: “Robot Pizza Startup Shuts Down After Cheese Kept Sliding Off” — Futurism