Your next boba tea could come from an adorable pink robot. San Francisco-based Boba Guys inked a deal with specialty robotics developer Bobacino.
Under the partnership, three-unit Boba Guys will act as strategic advisors to Bobacino as it continues to develop its robotic boba “pod.” The company unveiled the bot earlier this year at the World Tea Expo to big crowds lining up to watch the robotic arm make boba.
Boba Guys co-founder Bin Chen said he’s eager to explore the model further.
“Boba Guys believes that progress and innovation is often at the edges of technology, and we can think of no better partner to explore automation with than Bobacino,” said Chen. “The tools and technology that Bobacino provides will create something entirely new and open up markets and opportunities for the whole boba industry.”
Bobacino, which is backed by automation giant Wavemaker Labs, laid out the opportunity as a mobile and efficient alternative to a traditional boba shop. Owners can tap into the boba market, which the company projects to reach $4.34 billion by 2028, without a big investment. According to the company, a pod will cost about $50,000, take two weeks to set up, occupy 16 square feet and require just one part-time worker.
That’s compared to $200,000 to $375,000 for a traditional tea shop, a year to launch and approximately 700 square feet—requiring about 10 full-time employees. Bobacino also boasts a 31-percent margin (projected) compared to 4.9 percent at traditional locations. As another big draw, the pod is mobile.
Like other Wavemaker projects, Bobacino is crowdfunding under Reg A+ crowdfunding rules and seeks to raise $4 million to complete its Series A round. So far, the company has raised $1.4 million.
The details about the partnership with Boba Guys are not robust, but it puts Boba Guys on the ground floor of the robotic boba industry, which is a good place to be assuming everyone is still into tapioca pearl drinks when the robot is ready to roll out.