Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, and the subsequent lockdowns, the supermarket has become more than just a place to get food, but has turned into somewhat of a refuge for the quarantined. It has become a place where the very few social gatherings, which we’re allowed these days, can take place. And mostly it has become something “fun” to do to relieve the boredom, because shopping for food is always a blast.
The supermarket has also become subject of technological advancements, placed at the heart of Israel’s startup scene - in an effort to turn the food institution into a smart AI-powered one. Trigo, formerly Trigo Vision, announced the closing of a $60 million Series B funding round. The investment was led by 83North, with participation from Morrag Investments, Vertex Ventures, Hertz Ventures, Red Dot Capital Partners, and Tesco.
UK 2020, Europe 2021
Trigo’s system leverages computer vision and AI algorithms to identify and determine which products a consumer has picked off the shelves, and automatically charges them for the purchase. This streamlines and optimizes the food shopping experience by erasing the need for standing in lines for registers, or self checkouts, which anyways during the pandemic has become somewhat of a risk.
Trigo’s 3D imaging camera system can be retrofitted into a supermarket’s existing infrastructure, with the store’s inventory list linked to the Israeli startup’s dual hardware-software system. This enables customers to simply walk in, pick out their desired items, which are fitted with specialized tags, walk out, and are charged for the items as they exit the store.
In a conversation with Geektime, CEO and co-founder Michael Gabay states that despite COVID turning a lot of us to online ordering, still around the world most people shop at the supermarket - even during the pandemic. ““Our technology enables grocers to integrate the efficiencies and insights of digital commerce into the physical world while providing a frictionless checkout experience for customers. Ultimately, our solution reduces physical contact and does away with waiting in line, enabling a safe, secure, and streamlined shopping experience that’s a win-win for retailers and consumers,” explains Gabay.
When asked about competition, mostly coming from retail behemoth Amazon, Gabay notes that Amazon offers a solution that requires the construction of dedicated smart supermarkets, whereas Trigo fits right into existing stores. “There are already thousands of existing supermarkets in every country, therefore we can implement the systems faster into the existing stores. Remember, most of the major supermarket chains refuse to work with a company that they see as a major competitor,” said Gabay. He adds that since the company’s 2019 funding round, the technology has been adopted “not only as a solution to create a frictionless shopping experience, but also in supporting everything relevant to store’ operations.”
Trigo’s technology has been tapped by Tesco PLC, one of the world’s largest grocers with stores across the UK, Ireland and Central Europe. Tesco has been working on a trial with Trigo at a Tesco Express convenience store at its headquarters about 20 miles north of London. Guus Dekkers, Tesco Chief Technology Officer said, “We’re delighted to be working with Trigo as they continue to grow their business. Together, we have made great progress testing the frictionless checkout solution in our trial store in Welwyn Garden City and we are excited by this technology and the opportunities it brings.”
The company has seen rapid growth and increasing demand for its technology throughout 2020, and is working with leading retailers in Europe to open stores during 2021.
Trigo was founded in 2018 by brothers CEO Michael Gabay and CTO Daniel Gabay. Currently, the company employs a team of 85 people, split between offices in London and its R&D center in Israel. Trigo report that the funding will be invested in recruiting talent for the R&D team in Tel Aviv, in addition to expanding global deployment of the system. This Series B round brings the company’s total raised capital to $94 million to date.