There’s no denying that the robotics startup world has taken a hit during the ongoing economic downturn. Recent numbers prove what we’ve all suspected for a while. But two things are true: 1) The silence is temporary; and 2) While robotics is not recession proof, construction might as well be.
This is certainly a theme of recent times – as other categories of robotics have struggled to address, those working in construction seem relatively unaffected. New York-based Toggle announced this morning that it has added another $3 million to its coffers as part of a “Series A extension.” The $8 million first Series A was announced as early as 2021. Japanese company Tokyu Construction is an initial investor in the startup, whose total proceeds are currently $15 million.
Toggle CEO Daniel Blank tells australiabusinessblog.com:
With a renewed interest in US production and production capacity and investments in infrastructure and especially renewable energy (but also in battery and microchip production), we managed to overcome the difficulties, either due to our category , a slowing economy or the pandemic . In this round, adding strategic investors, we have shown that the issue of labor cost, availability and speed is really at the forefront for construction companies and they are going directly to the tech startups rather than through VCs to access solutions .
Toggle makes robots that bend rebar, the steel skeletal reinforcement found in all kinds of heavy structures. The company’s headcount currently stands at 40, which the company plans to double over the course of next year, following an upcoming Series B raise. Those roles will mainly focus on engineering and operations.
Blank notes that the pandemic has contributed to an increased interest in automating difficult and expensive parts of the construction process.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on the construction industry, leading to increased costs and complexity. Supply chain disruptions, inflation and rising labor costs have all played a role,” he explains. “To meet these challenges, there is a growing interest in the application of robotics in construction. This trend is consistent across segments of the industry as owners and contractors look for ways to save time and money. Robotics and automation, similar to those in production, are seen as solutions. This has also led to an acceleration in the use of prefab and modular construction.”
In addition to hiring staff, the new funds will be used to ramp up robot production.