coco

coco

Courtesy of Ilana Gordon

Food & Tech: Lunch and Network

I’m standing on the sidewalk in Santa Monica, waiting for my lunch, when a Coco robot rolls past. “Human operated,” reads the sign on the delivery bot’s back. “Zero emissions.”

The robot doesn’t know it, but it just had a drive-by encounter with another member of the food tech community: Stas Matviyenko, founder of Allset. He’s standing outside The Hive - Organic Cafe & Superfood Bar, directing people to a QR code to download his app, which he hopes will one day become the de facto choice for people ordering food for pickup.

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Illustration by Ian Hurley

In Los Angeles—like the startup environment at large—venture funding and valuations skyrocketed in 2021, even as the coronavirus pandemic continued to surge and supply chain issues rattled the economy. The result was a startup ecosystem that continued to build on its momentum, with no shortage of companies raising private capital at billion-dollar-plus unicorn valuations.

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Equipped with GPS tracking, two-way microphones and a human pilot controlling it from far away, Coco's 50-pound pink robots rolling around San Pedro, Santa Monica and other parts of Southern California are hoping to become a local mainstay.

Welcome to the delivery robot race.

As delivery bots take to the streets, Southern California has become a testing ground for companies like Coco that are trying to distinguish themselves.

The Los Angeles-based startup announced Wednesday that it raised $36 million in a Series A round led by Silicon Valley Bank, Founders Fund and the former president of Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator and CEO of OpenAI Sam Altman.

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