San Francisco-based ViaBot publicly launched with a $6.1 million raise looking to help property and facility managers clean up — literally.
While the company’s robots-as-a-service — or RAAS — offering for facility and property management deploys robots to sweep campuses clean, co-founder and CEO Gregg Ratanaphanyarat said one of the true value propositions of ViaBot is its robots’ multifunctionality.
“There’s often a thought that one robot can do one thing — robots are fine for a single function,” Ratanaphanyarat said. “However, it’s possible to make robots do more. The industry needs to start making robots more efficient.”
ViaBot’s new RUNO robots also offer vision-based security with the ability to view and scan things such as license plates of cars on a property. Ratanaphanyarat said the company likely will add other functions, such as more property maintenance features like landscaping, as it grows.
While the 20-person company does not release customer information, it has entered into a strategic partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and started to deploy robots onto properties managed by the firm last year. While many of the robots are mainly deployed on properties in the Bay Area, the new funding will be used to meet customer demand to start using the new robots across the U.S., Ratanaphanyarat said.
ViaBot sees itself as sitting in the intersection of being able to disrupt a traditional market often slow to change and solving a labor shortage involving what is considered “dirty, dull and dangerous” outdoor work, said Kelly Coyne, founding partner at Grit Ventures.
“When you match the labor shortage with this long overdue moment (for change) in a traditional industry, you have a tremendous opportunity,” Coyne said.
ViaBot also provides a software platform that allows users to control the robot and file reports, as well as give them real-time information and visibility of the property. The platform also will allow the company to continue to add services to the robots.
The robots are available via a subscription, which makes it more likely to retain customers by easing their fears of maintaining a robot.
The company’s ability to broaden its services and remain sticky with customers, along with the interest ViaBot is seeing from current and potential customers, made the investment obvious, Coyne said.
“We are seeing intense demand for geographic expansion and demand for added services,” she added.