New impressive fundraising for the French tech which continues to garner funding at the beginning of January. After Payfit’s HR, Qonto’s accounting or the Ankorstore marketplace, it’s the turn of logistics to stand out, with the northern start-up Exotec. The latter has in fact just completed a $335 million financing round ((€293 million) with the United States’ Goldman Sachs Asset Management, the Large Venture fund of BPI France and Britain’s 83North (main participant in the previous lifting of the start-up).This operation would value the young French shoot at 2 billion dollars, making it the 25th national unicorn.

Autonomous robots powered by AI

Exotec designs and manufactures its autonomous robots in Croix (Nord) near Roubaix, which makes it a French industrial start-up. At least in part. Because it is indeed also a high-tech start-up. It is its robot management software with in-house AI algorithms that really sets it apart in the market. Its algorithms orchestrate the movements and actions of swarms of shuttles in the warehouse according to its configuration and especially the orders to be processed. The shuttles autonomously transport standard bins of goods between the order preparation stations, the conveyors, and especially the stock and order shelves. The robots evolve in an astonishing coordinated ballet, on the ground, but also vertically and horizontally between the racks. Exotec designs its algorithms specifically to manage and optimize combinations with swarms of 10 as well as 100, or even several hundred robots.

A company can thus increase or decrease the number of shuttles according to its occasional or permanent needs. An essential feature with the evolution of logistics organizations, e-commerce and consumer behavior that increasingly require greater agility from players in mass distribution, retail or e-commerce, or logistics service providers. AI is therefore at the heart of Exotec’s strategy, which will continue to develop it. It thus intends to use the funds raised today to recruit no less than 500 engineers for its R&D by 2025. The start-up employs 300 employees and this workforce should double by next year.

Boost international development already well underway

If Exotec completes its 4th funding round on January 17, 2022, appearing as a new unicorn, it has already proven itself by winning over many major customers. Starting with the first to trust him, the Japanese Uniqlo, which has the warehouse on its Japanese lands with the largest swarm of Skypods. Some 500 robots in this case. Exotec has also installed its system in Monoprix, Carrefour or Decathlon sites and has several customers in Germany, Italy and the United States. The start-up will use its new fundraising to strengthen its international expansion.

Romain Moulin, co-founder of the young shoot, regularly recalls how the story of the start-up was born. The trigger took place 10 years ago when Amazon bought the Kiva logistics robots and, above all, decided to stop marketing them to keep them for its own warehouses. Romain Moulin and Renaud Heitz see this as an opportunity, since there are no longer autonomous logistics robots of this type on the market. In 2014, the two former employees of General Electric Medical decided to fill this void by creating Exotec.