Tunisian robotics startup, Enova Robotics, has announced the receipt of investment of USD 1.6 Mn from Tunisian investment firm, Capsa Capital Partners. The investment which could be considered the largest secured by a Tunisian startup in a single funding round is expected to fuel the startup’s plans of branching into the European market with France as its first port of call. The investment is also billed to drive the startup’s operations and extend its reach into other parts of the MENA region.
Enova Robotics is the creation of Dr. Anis Sahbani, who holds a Ph.D. in the science of robotics. The startup was established by the Ph.D. holder in Tunisia after his return from France back in 2014. Dr. Anis is believed to be well versed in the science of robotics as he has under his belt over a decade of teaching and research experience at some of the most prominent and prestigious French universities. Since its inception in July 2014, the startup appears to be carving a niche for itself in the world of robotics, as it is a known designer and manufacturer of branded robots – an area not quite many a startup can call their turf.
To its credit, the startup is known to currently have up to four different types of robots in its product catalog, with the design of these robots tailored to fulfill roles in such areas as healthcare, education, marketing, and security.
The robotics startup claims to have garnered considerable patronage for its products since kicking off operations as it claims to have sold up to 50 robots to clients from various parts of the world. With a team that encompasses more than twenty robotics engineers in both Tunisia and France currently, Enova Robotics is believed to be targeting increased sales for its products and expansion of its team of experts in the near future.
Speaking to WeeTracker with regard to the investment, Dr. Anis revealed that the closing of the deal is the culmination of talks that have lasted for two months – talks that were themselves triggered when he approached the investor with the startup’s offering. He also told WeeTracker that Capsa Capital Partners gets a 30% equity stake in Enova Robotics by virtue of the deal.
Commenting on how to the funds will be put to use, the Enova Robotics Chief told WeeTracker; “The fund is composed of two parts. One part will be dedicated to the establishment of a branch in France, facilitate sales and after-sale services, as well as develop specific robots in the field of security. The other part will be dedicated to setting up the industrialization of our robots, and also extend our PI to other European countries.”
The latest funding round trails a number of previous investments into the startup which includes an initial investment of around USD 29 K back in 2014; a figure that was, at the time, brought up to around USD 58 K with the entry of investment firm, Optima Sicar, into the funding round. In the conversation with WeeTracker, the CEO revealed that Enova Robotics bought out the shares of Optima Sicar outrightly in January 2015, and this was before an angel investor weighed in with around USD 87 K in 2016.
Enova Robotics considers itself one of the first companies in Africa and the Arab World to make its own brand of robots, and it is all the more interesting that a relatively young team aged between 22 to 27 years is making all of this happen. Dr. Anis believes that the youth of his team has a bearing on the speed of development of the technology and the impressive levels of innovation.
MiniLab was the first robot created by the startup when it first became operational. The development of this robot is believed to have been motivated by the need to overcome the lack of a robotics program at the University of Tunisia. MiniLab is basically a teaching platform on which AI programs can be deployed and the science of robotics can be learned. Although Enova Robotics was always intended as a security robot-focused enterprise, Dr. Anis believes developing the MiniLab was a necessary detour as it allowed the startup to garner some revenue and essentially train all the company’s employees.
After MiniLab, Enova Robotics has also rolled out such products as PearlGuard and eTouchBot from its assembly lines. PearlGuard is a patrolling security robot which can patrol for up to 8 hours at a stretch, provide surveillance, launch alerts, act remotely on intruders, and even deploy features that can stall intrusion. eTouchBot, on the other hand, is a telepresence robot which is unique in that it is furnished with the ability to teleoperate remotely and transmit sensory flow. It is also built to map out surroundings and navigate automatically based on user order.
With the latest injection of capital, the startup now appears to be well-placed in its bid to establish a branch in France which will serve R&D purposes and also develop its after-sales services for European markets. Having identified various parts of the MENA region as holding significant potential for the multiple use case scenarios of its different products, Enova Robotics is also looking to set aside part of the investment to drive its reach into other parts of the region.
Going forward, the company hopes to expand into other parts of Europe, as well as develop its activities in the Middle East. More investments could also be expected in the future as the business also intends an onslaught on the American market.