In the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, a startup plans to offer an autonomous store technology, which is very similar to American eCommerce giant Amazon’s Go stores, to other retailers.
Lisbon-based Sensei, a computer vision startup that allows convenience stores to offer check-out-free purchasing has secured a seed round of $6.5 million. The funding was led by Spain-based equity firms Seaya Ventures and Iberis Capital.
This is the largest seed round secured by a Portuguese company to date. Also, it is the first European autonomous retail technology vendor to get funding and brings the overall funding raised by the company to $7 million.
Sensei will now scale its Research & Development (R&D) wing and expand into the UK and European markets including France, Germany and Spain. These smart stores are a hot topic right now as Amazon Go was recently launched in the UK. The Amazon Go stores are partially automated, with customers able to purchase products without being checked out by a cashier or using a self-checkout station.
Vasco Portugal, Sensei’s CEO and Co-founder said, “Sensei’s technology will help level the playing field for retailers to compete against digital giants such as Amazon. We aim to enhance the familiar and enjoyable customer shopping experience, making it seamless, convenient, and safe.”
Sensei is designed to work mainly with grab-and-go stores, forecourts and similar retail formats. The advantages of automated stores in a pandemic are obvious because customers no longer have to queue. Plus retailers can avoid stock-outs and staff turn into customer support.
“We are delighted to invest in a business that is part of the digitalization of commerce, a trend that is currently clearly being accelerated,” said Aris Xenofontos, Principal at Seaya Ventures.
Sensei was founded in 2017 by Vasco Portugal, Joana Rafael, Nuno Moutinho and Paulo Carreira. It deploys a proprietary technology platform, which uses a blend of cameras, sensors, and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. It can automate stores, both new and existing, to provide a fast, convenient and seamless shopping experience.