The Portuguese startup will use the €5.4 million capital to scale its R&D and launch new stores.
The Lisbon-based Sensei that created the technology that enables physical stores to become autonomous, allowing consumers to shop without scanning, physical payments or checkout, has just secured a seed round of €5.4 million. It is the largest round of funding in the “seed capital” phase, carried out so far by a Portuguese company.
According to the startup, Seaya Ventures and Iberis Capital led the funding, and included the participation from 200M Fund. The amount will be used for “product development as well as the implementation of new autonomous stores in response to growing customer demand, and to consolidate market leadership in Europe,” reads a statement sent by the Portuguese startup. In addition, the company intends to double the team which, to date, has about 30 people.
“We are excited about this growth and the trust that new and existing investors have placed in us. We have the ambition to change the way we shop for the better, and we will use this funding to expand Sensei’s platform and artificial intelligence supported shopping experience to everyone,” says Vasco Portugal, CEO and co-founder of Sensei.
“Sensei’s technology enables traditional retailers to compete on par with digital giants like Amazon. Our goal is to improve the customer shopping experience, making it a more enjoyable and convenient experience, eradicating chronic retail problems, namely time lost in queues to pay, and giving customers back control of their time,” he adds.
Autonomous stores are, for the startup, the key to improving the customer experience in-store, uniting the best of online shopping with the offline experience. Aris Xenofontos, director of Seaya Ventures, and Luis Quaresma, partner at Iberis Capital, highlight their “delight” in being part of the digitalization of commerce. This is “a trend that is currently clearly being accelerated,” says Aris Xenofontos.
Sensei works mainly with grab-and-go stores, forecourts and similar retail formats, and is expanding in European markets including the UK, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain.