September 04, 2015      

Zimplistic Pte. Ltd., which claims that its Rotimatic is the world’s first fully automatic flatbread maker, has received $11.5 million in Series B investment. The technology took six years to develop. Paranoti Nagarkar, who studied at the National University of Singapore, won the “Start-Up Singapore” competition with a prototype in 2009. Her husband Rishi Israni previously founded a mobile security company and helped raise the initial investment. According to Zimplistic, Rotimatic uses patented artificial intelligence and parts to measure and mix the correct ratio of flour and water to make one roti or chapati per minute and up to 20 in a batch. The technology took six years to develop, and users can set thickness, texture, spice, and toast level. Unleavened bread is a staple food for millions worldwide, and Zimplistic could serve a large market with this time-saving device, which costs $999. (It will be priced lower in India.) During last year’s launch, the Rotimatic sold out in a week, with $5 million in preorders at $599 apiece. NSI Ventures and Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH led this round of funding. Singapore-based NSI Ventures helped Zimplistic raise $1 million in Series A funding, and both venture capital firms helped raise $15 million in Series B funding for Zimplistic, which has offices in Singapore and Mountain View, Calif. The second round of funding enabled the company to increase its staff from 15 to 35. “Zimplistic is a rare combination of a project with huge revenue potential and also social impact by increasing the productivity of millions of men and women around the world who still make flatbreads by hand,” said Hian Goh, co-founder of the Asian Food Channel and NSI Ventures. “Rotimatic?s cutting-edge robotic technology takes user convenience in the kitchen around conscious, healthy nutrition to new levels,” said Jan Westerhues, investment partner at Robert Bosch. “We are very impressed by the Zimplistic team and happy to support the company on its way to scale up production and enter global distribution.” Both Goh and Westerhues will join Zimiplistic’s board of directors.

Zimplistic has a wait list worth $72 million and more than 5,000 distribution requests. The company plans to finish beta testing the machine, which required custom tooling for its 1,000 parts, before scaling up production. Nagarkar and Israni plan to sell the Rotimatic online only. The way to consumers’ hearts is through their stomachs While intelligent appliances such as the Rotimatic may not fit the conception of a cooking robot with arms, they are being touted for their potential time savings and the health benefits of automated cooking at home. Could cooking be how robots enter more households? Some companies think so. Foodini, which will cost about $1,500, promises to assemble healthy ingredients through 3D printing. Barcelona-based Natural Machines hopes to put Foodini into production later this year.

In particular, 3D printing could offer an attractive presentation of food to diners who might be suspicious of unfamiliar dishes. Italian pasta manufacturer Barilla Group and Dutch research firm TNO have been working on additive manufacturing for four years and say they are close to market with a pasta-printing device. Like so-called food processors before them, such labor-saving devices are intended to encourage people to eat at home more by combining ingredients so that final cooking is all that’s needed. In combination with recipes from the cloud and smart kitchens enabled by the Internet of Things, 3D-printed and robot-prepared food promise greater variety and flexibility for time-pressed consumers.