According to ResearchAndMarkets, the global inventory robots market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 13% by 2023 and expected to reach $3.1 billion by 2020. Booming growth of the e-commerce industry comes with its own problems such as rising wages, increasing rivalry, and price wars. To deal with them, retailers are turning to inventory robots. GreyOrange is a company that designs, manufactures, and deploys advanced robotics systems for warehouses, distribution and fulfillment centers. It has a 90% market share in India.
Grey Orange’s Journey
GreyOrange was founded in 2011 by Samay Kohli and Akash Gupta, alumni from premier Indian engineering institute Bits Pilani. While studying at the institute, they took part in several robotics competitions and won the gold medal at the RoboGames (formerly ROBOlympics) in San Francisco in 2009. They were part of the humanoid program at the Centre for Robotics & Intelligent Systems at Bits that created AcYut, one of the first indigenously created humanoid robots in India.
With their savings of INR 5 lakh ($7,000) from their internships in US, they started GreyOrange in the robotics education space. They were initially conducting robotics workshops in premier institutes like IIT. In December 2011, they ventured into the robotics product space for the e-commerce industry and speed and volumes were critical to meet consumer demand. They built robots to help warehouse workers move inventory faster and more efficiently.
GreyOrange has two main products: Butler for moving heavy installations around warehouses and Linear Sorter, a high-speed packaging robot. Its Butler PickPal is an automated picking system that can pick, process, consolidate and prepare orders. Its portfolio is powered by GreyMatter , the software platform that uses AI algorithms and machine learning to optimize path planning, maximize storage, streamline zoning, improve space utilization, and accelerate order fulfillment.
Today, GreyOrange is headquartered in Singapore and three state-of-the-art research and development centers in Boston, USA, Singapore, and Gurgaon, India. It has regional offices in Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, UAE, and USA. Its customers include e-commerce players such as Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, and Pepperfry; logistics players such as Dubai-based Aramex, DTDC, Delhivery, and Mahindra Tractors in India. Other customers include Kerry Logistics (Hong Kong), Ninja Van (Singapore), Nitori, Trusco and Daiwa (Japan), Loggi (Brazil), and Pos Indonesia (Indonesia). Its competitors include Amazon-owned Kiva, Fetch Robotics, InVia robotics, and Gideon Brothers.
Currently, the Indian market accounts for about 10% of GreyOrange’s global business while majority of the business comes from the US, Japan, and Europe. Since it is a privately held company, it doesn’t disclose the details of its global consolidated revenues. For the financial year ended March 31, 2017, GreyOrange India Pvt. Ltd for its Indian operations had reported 74% growth in revenues to INR 75.8 crore ($10.6 million). Net loss widened 158% to INR 30.8 crore ($4.3 million) while expenses jumped 93% to INR 110.5 crore ($15.5 million).
GreyOrange has so far raised $170 million from investors including Tiger Global Management, Blume Ventures, Flipkart, and Mithril Capital Management. Its latest funding round was in September last year when it raised Series C for $140 million at an undisclosed valuation. With the help of the new round of funding, GreyOrange wants to the first in the world to operate a fully autonomous warehouse.
A business like robotics does need a lot of capital to scale. However, $170M in funding to generate $10m in revenue is rather concerning.