Today, Bobacino – a start-up bringing the unique boba tea experience to a growing audience of boba aficionados and new enthusiasts through advanced artificial intelligence, automation and robotics – launches on StartEngine to target a market set to hit $8.4 billion by 2024. As operators struggle to keep menus appealing, and consumers seek more customizable beverage choices crafted with minimal contact in a post-pandemic world, Bobacino delivers a fully automated boba tea bar equipped with multiple flavor options and fresh and organic ingredients in a standalone machine. With every trip and every sip, Bobacino aims to give a ‘new normal’ customer a tailored, delicious boba treat.
According to a recent survey, 44% of customers miss trying new dishes and sharing food experiences that restaurants once offered before the pandemic. As foodservice providers seek to retain customers, new personalized options stand to offer a competitive advantage. However, limited time and money to train staff and execute orders make menu expansion nearly impossible. In fact, major quick-service restaurant brands have been forced to trim down their menus to stay profitable amid the industry-threatening pandemic. Faced with less labor capacity in a socially distanced kitchen, growing drive-thru lines and expanding delivery demand, operators have slashed menu options by 7% and looked to minimize customization to expedite production, based on recent industry report findings.
The global boba tea market is currently worth over $5.3 billion, and it is projected to hit $8.4 billion by 2024. The time-honored tradition has been attracting an expanding base as consumers venture out to try new products and choose operators that offer customizable options unique to their lifestyle. According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., 87% of American millennials drink tea, and a recent study on delivery orders found that brown sugar milk (bubble tea) was among the most ordered food items in the U.S. in 2019, growing 281% from the previous year.
Just as the boba market is projected to expand quickly by 2024, the global food automation market is also exploding. Analysts anticipate the market will reach $14.3 billion by 2025. The rapid adoption of automation across new food categories is being primarily driven by increasing food safety regulations and new technological advancements in the food industry. In fact, 95% of restaurant owners said in a recent survey that they have seen a significant boom in their business since they have embedded technology in their processes. Customers are looking toward low-touch solutions, like automatically prepared food items, in a new era where concerns over exposure to pathogens has heightened. Survey findings show that while 80% of customers had a desire to avoid restaurants during the pandemic, 66% had an increased likelihood to order from a restaurant, should they have active communication of implemented safety measures.
“We are seeing robots and automation offer a path for operators facing pandemic challenges and the ordering concerns customers have today,” said Darian Ahler, CEO of Bobacino. “Through Bobacino’s fully automated boba tea bar, consumers are able to enjoy a beverage prepared by an entirely touchless and AI-powered robot – minimizing exposure to pathogens, while providing them with a drink designed to taste the way they want it to taste. It’s fresh, it’s flavorful and a unique experience. Boba is unlike any other drink out there, and the future of beverage automation is upon us. Bringing a beloved beverage together with robotics is truly exciting. We want to make boba more accessible to those who regularly enjoy the boba experience and open the door for more consumers to give boba a try, without concerns of contamination. They can sip safely with Bobacino. At first pour, we aim to make a memorable boba moment come to life for a ‘new normal’ world.”
Bobacino is backed by lead investors Wavemaker Partners, a global venture capital fund with $400M AUM, and Wavemaker Labs, an automation-focused venture studio, and Embark Ventures, a venture capital firm in Los Angeles with a strong focus on AI and Robotics. The company features a seasoned team of robotics and food experts made up of executives and founders from Miso Robotics, SpaceX and Microsoft. The company is launching its seed capital raise on equity crowdfunding site StartEngine, targeting a $3 million raise. Through equity crowdfunding, any individual can invest in the company without large upfront costs. The democratized venture capital model allows everyday investors to be pioneers in the most cutting-edge technologies like robotics, automation and artificial intelligence.