The money was invested through Ross Digital, Ratio’s parent company. Till date, the Singapore and Shanghai-based firm has raised a total of US$12 million.
Launched in 2017, Ratio is a cafe and lounge that uses robotic technology to create coffee drinks and other beverages for customers. Orders can be placed through the cloud, and the robotic arms are said to serve close to 60 types of coffee and cocktail drinks.
Currently, Ratio has a total of eight robotics cafes and lounges: five in China and three in Singapore.
The round was oversubscribed, so the company is considering a series A+ round in the second half of 2021, Ratio CEO and founder, Gavin Pathross, who also serves as chief executive of Ross Digital, tells Tech in Asia.
The new funds will support Ross Digital’s plan to expand in Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia this year and to roll out its robotic arm units to customers. The company is also looking to boost its engineering and IT teams in Singapore and Shanghai “by another 20 people in the next 12 months,” said Pathross.
Besides this, Ratio will be investing heavily in research and development to reduce the manufacturing costs of its robots, making them cheaper for customers.
Pathross further said that by the end of 2021, the company aims to produce 40 robotic arms, which will include units to food and beverage (F&B) customers as well as their own cafes.
Ratio’s clients either franchise its cafe and lounge or lease its technology for their own F&B businesses. Customers can rent the robotic arm units for between US$2,000 to US$4,000 a month, depending on the configuration.
At present, the robotic arms are configured to create drinks from Nanyang kopi, which is popular in the Southeast Asian market, to Western-style coffees and cocktails.
Ross Digital is now in the R&D stage of building new robots for non-beverage categories like food.
Ratio CEO and founder Gavin Pathross / Photo credit: Ratio
While the first Ratio robotics cafe and lounge in Singapore was launched in February 2020, it has had outlets in China since 2018.
Ratio, which has been pitted against big chains in China such as Starbucks and Luckin Coffee, is also positioned to tackle issues that F&B owners face, such as a manpower crunch and the rising costs of employing staff.
The brand has become popular in the Chinese market, which has seen growing demand for coffee chains in recent years. The market size of China’s coffee shop industry is expected to grow to 38.2 billion yuan (US$5.9 billion) in 2021 and is forecasted to reach 47.9 billion yuan (US$7.4 billion) by 2023.
Ratio has also formed a close relationship with Alibaba. The startup’s robotics technology is present in the Chinese tech giant’s campus and smart hotels. Meanwhile, Ratio uses Alibaba’s cloud services and offers Alipay as a payment option.
Currency converted from Chinese yuan to US dollar: US$1 = 6.46 yuan.