Tiger Global leads cash infusion into Elementary for automated manufacturing inspection

Elementary, an artificial intelligence machine vision company, closed on $30 million in Series B funding to continue developing its manufacturing quality and inspection tools.

We last profiled the Pasadena-based company last June when it raised $12.7 million in a financing round led by Threshold Ventures. Elementary’s tools enable customers to create no-code inspection routines and train models to inspect produced goods, parts and assemblies that were previously impossible to inspect manually, in a repeatable and scalable way.

With the latest funding, Threshold is back and participating with other existing investors, including Fika Ventures, Fathom Capital, Riot VC and Toyota Ventures, in a round led by Tiger Global. In total, the company has raised $47.5 million.

“Elementary’s rapidly deployable hardware and industrial machine vision software are powering modern factories,” said Mo Islam, Elementary board director and partner at Threshold Ventures, said via email. “I’m thrilled to welcome Tiger Global as a new partner for the company as they scale deployments with numerous customers in manufacturing, consumer packaged goods and logistics.”

Elementary, manufacturing

Elementary’s automated inspection tools. Image Credits: Elementary

Meanwhile, Arye Barnehama, founder and CEO of Elementary, explained via email that customer demand and market timing were the drivers for the company to go after new funding. Over 250 millions inspections have been performed to date, he said.

In the past year, the company grew its number of Tier 1 enterprise customers by 10 times. At the same time, Elementary’s team doubled its headcount and rounded out its executive suite with the hiring of Milind Karnik as vice president of engineering, Monique Apter, vice president of sales, Krishna Gopalakrishnan, senior director of vision and platform, and Greg McEntyre, vice president of implementation.

Barnehama intends the new funding to expand Elementary’s customer base globally. He also intends to double the company’s workforce over the next year by growing in engineering, sales, implementation and customer success teams. The company will also invest in technology development for additional AI inspection capabilities and cloud analytics and reporting.

“During the pandemic, manufacturing and logistics have undergone major labor shortages that were already beginning before the pandemic but were significantly increased,” Barnehama said. “As companies look to continue to automate without having to rely on expensive and hard to find engineering talent, our business has scaled because we are able to provide them with no-code AI solutions. Overall, we’re enabling customers to move towards industry 4.0 cloud initiatives, and quality/sustainability initiatives in a fast and easy path.”

Elementary Robotics is making its quality assurance robots commercially available

Two years and over $17 million after it first began working on its robots for quality assurance, the Los Angeles-based Elementary Robotics has finally made its products commercially available.

The company already boasts a few very large initial customers in the automotive industry, consumer packaged goods, and aerospace and defense, including Toyota, according to chief executive Arye Barnehama. Now, the robotics technology that Barnehama and his co-workers have been developing for years is broadly available to other companies beyond its six initial pilot customers.

The company’s robots look like a large box with a gantry system providing three degrees of freedom, with vertical and horizontal movement as well as a gimbal-mounted camera that can visualize products.

Image credit: Elementary Robotics

As objects are scanned by the robots they’re compared against a taxonomy of objects provided by the companies that Elementary works with to determine whether or not there’s a defect.

Barnehama also emphasizes that Elementary’s robots are not designed to replace every human interaction or assessment in the manufacturing process. “Machine learning paired with humans always performs better,” says Barnehama. “At the end of the day the human is running the factory. We’re not really a lights out factory.”

Behind the new commercialization push is a fresh $12.7 million in financing that Elementary closed at the end of 2019.

The lead investor in that round was Threshold Ventures and the firm’s partner, Mo Islam, has already taken a seat on the Elementary Robotics board of directors, while existing investors Fika Ventures, Fathom Capital and Toyota AI Ventures, also participated in the round, which will be used to allow Elementary Robotics to continue developing and deploying its automation products at scale, the company said.

“Robotics and particularly robotics applied to manufacturing has been an interest of mine,” said Islam. In Elementary Robotics, Islam saw a company that could compete with large, publicly traded businesses like Cognex. The low complexity and ease of deployment of Elementary’s hardware was another big selling point for Islam that convinced him to invest. 

Elementary says that it can be up and running at a site in a matter of days and with businesses emphasizing cost-cutting and enabling remote work to ensure worker safety, companies are embracing the technology.

“That’s where we’re really excited to be launching it,” said Barnehama. “If we get parts or data examples we can get that up and running same day. We can usually show customers within that week we can start showing them the value of that as we get more and more data through the system.”