At byFounders, we are a team of enthusiastic foodies. So, when we heard about BonBot: a modular retail food concept with a mobile front-end and a robot-powered store, we knew we had to meet the talent behind it. Learning that BonBot was founded by extremely impressive King veterans made us even more intrigued.
We started by looking closer at the team behind BonBot. This is no easy feat. You need to ask yourself: Do you believe that the team will work well together over time? Do they have what it takes to build a billion-dollar business? Do they have any unique technical skills that will allow them to create a robust product? Do they have an inner drive and passion for the problem they are trying to solve?
In BonBot's case, there was no hesitation here: the team is an absolute slam dunk.
The four co-founders have worked together for more than six years. Three of them have actually worked with each other for more than 15 years! Together, they make up a well-oiled machine with an incredible level of mutual respect toward one another and complementary skillsets.
Furthermore, their successful previous ventures have proven that they can build a billion-dollar business idea once more. Thomas Hartwig (CEO & co-founder) is the former CTO and co-founder of King: the company behind the world-renowned game Candy Crush Saga, which exited to Activision Blizzard for US$5.9 billion in 2016.
His new co-founders, Levina Persson, Jonas Olofsson, and Driss Louriagli, also played a crucial role in King's success story - building a gaming powerhouse.
Beyond gaming experience, Levina is also one of the strongest product people you can find in the Nordics. Having lead product at Hemnet (which today has a market cap of 18bn SEK) and Natural Cycles (backed by EQT Ventures and others), Levina has a unique ability to identify customers' needs and build truly user-oriented products.
It is not surprising that these four rockstars from King, specifically, ended up joining forces and embarking on this next exciting adventure together!
As a final step, we needed to understand whether the team had the grit, inner drive, and passion for executing. Having grown up in a family of restauranteurs, Thomas had seen first-hand the struggles and inefficiencies people in the industry often face. Therefore, after leaving King, Thomas simply couldn't resist trying to solve some of the problems in the restaurant business. He and his team are genuinely passionate and driven to create the change!
Once we felt confident in the team, we moved on to evaluating the product and its market.
Squarely targeted at the younger generation, BonBot will start with premium soft-serve ice cream. Customers will be able to use the app to create and customize their orders. The robot can produce a vast set of flavor and topping combinations, limited only by the imagination of the customers. Their standardized units will be built from the ground up with scalability in mind, tailored for a franchise concept to accelerate scaling.
See, following a COVID-19 reality of takeaway and home cooking, customers' demand for high-quality and personalized food and drink experiences has increased. They may be flocking to restaurants again, but the expectations are different.
By combining the data-first approach and gamification skillset from their journey at King with a first-hand understanding of the restaurant industry, the BonBot team will deliver a customer-centric restaurant experience.
Aside from soft-serve ice cream being delicious and robots very fun - on a more serious note - we see a lot of potential in the market. We believe that the restaurant business is ripe for disruption.
With profit margins averaging between 2-6%, and increasing competition, restaurant owners need to improve their operational efficiency while ensuring high guest satisfaction: something we believe will be solved by automating as much of the operation as possible so employees can focus on what matters: its customers.
However, it's not only a question about automation but about running a data-driven business with accurate forecasting and waste management.
BonBot's digital customer journey - powered by great data analytics - is on a mission to reduce food waste (between 5-50%!) and cost spend, which today average 25-40% of a restaurants' revenue.
As a fellow Swede, I took the opportunity to meet the team on my last visit back home (we completed the investment round without ever having seen each other face to face!). It was an extraordinary experience to get to know the team better, see their robot, and take part in their hunt for their first brick-and-mortar. Among all the software companies we invest in, it's just something truly thrilling with hardware and consumer products!
Building the next big restaurant franchise, enabled by robotics and mobile-first user interfaces, is not an easy task to take on. Still, with Levina, Driss, Jonas, and Thomas in the driver's seat, we are super eager to support them on their journey together with Stride VC, Sweet Capital, and some strong angels by our side.