If we’re paying attention to the pain of adversity, it encourages us to look for new solutions to old problems. Entrepreneurs, in particular, learn this lesson early when searching for product-market fit.
The CEO and co-founder of Bumblebee Spaces, Sankarshan Murthy, ran into his pain point in his own living room. Residing in a dense urban area, Sankarshan found himself struggling to make room as his family grew. Even after decluttering, when relatives visited from abroad, there was simply not enough space for everyone. Something had to change. Tapping into his product design background, Sankarshan envisioned an intelligent “space and stuff” solution to apartment living that used robotics to optimize the space and artificial intelligence (AI) to keep track of stored objects — the stuff. Like in Dalio’s formula above, Sankarshan’s reflection led to the creation of Bumblebee Spaces and his progress is why I’m thrilled to welcome his company to the Toyota AI Ventures portfolio.
Based in San Francisco, CA, Bumblebee Spaces modernizes urban living by offering storage solutions that take advantage of vertical space to store, track, and locate objects on demand. The result is a new type of smart home solution that allows apartment and condo residents to make the most of spaces with a smaller footprint, offering a new type of residential living option for dense cities.
Bumblebee’s system includes a modular framework that can raise and lower a bed, closet, or multiple storage units from the ceiling using voice commands or Bumblebee’s mobile app. To make home organization smarter, Bumblebee’s platform also uses manual search, object recognition, and deep learning to identify and understand items that users’ own. Think of it as an “AI-butler” that can help you find things like an umbrella, or your wallet — a feature anyone late to an appointment or meeting would be grateful for. Installation is quick, too. The Bumblebee team can set up the system in existing residences in just a few hours.
In 2017, Sankarshan began assembling a team of design, engineering, and AI experts to create indoor areas that feel spacious and intuitive. Today, Bumblebee Spaces is collaborating with select partners to ensure that urban real estate is never completely out of reach for renters and condo owners. Combining predictive AI with consumer-grade robotics has already put this startup on the map, but what impressed me most is the way the team is redefining urban living. Given that renters in dense urban areas like New York City and Los Angeles spent 38 percent and 47 percent of their income in 2018 on housing, respectively (well above the national average of 28%), it’s exciting to see a company make every cubic foot count.
We’re looking forward to supporting Bumblebee Spaces in its Series A round alongside lead investor NTT Venture Capital, and other great investors like Valor Equity Partners , Sound Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners. As business grows, Bumblebee’s design and engineering teams are on the hunt for like-minded talent. If you’re passionate about robotics and smart home technology, keep an eye on the Toyota AI Ventures Talent network because they’re hiring!