Nimble Robotics Inc., an autonomous logistics startup that’s aiming to reinvent the fulfillment center for small and medium-sized businesses, said today it has closed on a $65 million round of funding.
Today’s Series B round was led by Cedar Pine and saw participation from existing backers DNS Capital, GSR Ventures, Breyer Capital and others, bringing the company’s total amount raised to $115 million.
The startup is building a robotics-powered third-party logistics fulfillment network that aims to serve e-commerce firms and other companies across the U.S. that lack the ability to create their own autonomous warehouses. The reality is that most companies don’t have the resources to fully automate their warehouse operations, given the required investment needed.
With Nimble, companies can effectively just outsource their warehousing needs to its fully automated 3PL centers, as opposed to building their own. As the company explains in its pitch, its intelligent robotic fulfillment systems can autonomously pick, pack and ship e-commerce orders, while reducing warehouse size by as much as 75%.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Nimble founder and Chief Executive Simon Kalouche said his company has managed to crack the “hardest part” of warehouse automation, which is picking items. “Until you automate picking, you need people in the warehouse,” he said. “You need to make warehouses ergonomic, safe and OSHA-compliant for people. When you automate the picking step, you remove all of those constraints.”
Nimble says it has already built a network of these automated warehouses, with locations geographically dispersed across the U.S. It claims it can provide brands with 96% coverage of the U.S. population within 1-2 days, and click-to-collect savings of 40% versus legacy 3PL firms.
Although it can’t currently match Amazon.com Inc.’s same-day delivery service, it does enable online retailers to get a step closer. Further, by using automation, it solves another headache for warehouse operators: the shortage of human workers. A leaked internal memo last year showed that Amazon has serious concerns that it’s running out of people to staff its warehouses.
“Finding and retaining warehouse labor, while meeting a two-day delivery standard, is our customer’s No. 1 operational problem,” Kalouche said. “Brands want to leverage robotics and automation solutions to address this issue but are often challenged by the economics. Our autonomous fulfillment centers and 3PL service will give brands access to state-of-the-art robotic fulfillment systems in a cost-effective way without large upfront investment.”