Starship Technologies, the pioneer in sidewalk delivery robot services based in Estonia, has secured $90 million in funding to scale up its operations during challenges faced by similar services.
The investment round is co-led by Plural and Iconical, both previous backers. This brings Starship’s total funding to $230 million, with support from NordicNinja, European Investment Bank, Morpheus Ventures, and TDC.
In the past decade, Starship’s robots, covering 80 locations across the U.S. and Europe, have traveled 11 million miles, completing 6 million deliveries. The company’s partner/customers include Bolt, Co-Op, Aramark, Sodexo, Chartwells, and Grubhub. The funding will be utilized for geographic expansion, launching a new robot manufacturing scheme with an undisclosed partner, investing in software and logistics services, and upgrading robots for wireless charging.
Ahti Heinla, CTO and reinstated CEO, emphasized the company’s profitability and its standing as a significant player, having overcome the challenges faced by competitors like FedEx and Amazon. While Starship is profitable and currently the largest player in its space, it operates at a smaller scale compared to Amazon, which made over 2 billion deliveries in the U.S. alone in 2023.
Heinla revealed plans to focus more on Europe than the U.S., indicating a shift in strategy. The leadership change, including Heinla taking over as CEO, occurred independently of the fundraising, positioning the company for future growth. Plural partner Taavet Hinrikus expressed support for the leadership change, highlighting the founders’ commitment to making a significant impact.
Starship sees an opportunity in the growing demand for alternative mobility solutions in municipalities aiming to reduce traffic and pollution. Unlike self-driving cars facing economic and safety challenges, sidewalk delivery robots have been well-received in communities. Heinla noted the positive acceptance of their robots, with people even trying to interact with them by feeding them bananas.