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Look out Amazon Go — A Lisbon startup plans to offer autonomous stores to other retailers

Mike Butcher
·1-min read

Look out Amazon Go. A Lisbon startup plans to offer the same autonomous store technology to other retailers. Lisbon-based Sensei, a computer vision startup that allows convenience stores to offer check-out-free purchasing, has secured a seed round of $6.5 million (€5.4 million). The funding was led by Seaya Ventures and Iberis Capital, with participation from 200M Fund.

The startup will now scale its R&D and launch new stores. Its proprietary platform uses a blend of cameras, sensors and AI to automate stores, both new and existing. The platform means retailers can manage inventory in real time and also access insights into the way the stores are used.

Vasco Portugal, Sensei’s CEO and co-founder, said: “Sensei’s technology will help level the playing field for retailers to compete against digital giants such as Amazon. We aim to enhance the familiar and enjoyable customer shopping experience, making it seamless, convenient and safe.”

Sensei is designed to work mainly with grab-and-go stores, forecourts and similar retail formats. Competitors include Trigo, which has raised $89 million.

The advantages of automated stores in a pandemic are obvious: customers no longer have to queue. Plus retailers can avoid stock-outs and staff turn into customer support.

“We are delighted to invest in a business that is part of the digitalization of commerce, a trend that is currently clearly being accelerated,” said Aris Xenofontos, principal at Seaya Ventures.

Luis Quaresma, partner at Iberis Capital, added: “Sensei brings tremendous efficiencies and cost-savings to the retail industry, while providing a much needed seamless checkout experience for consumers.”

Sensei was founded by Vasco Portugal (CEO, ex-MIT), Joana Rafael (COO), Nuno Moutinho (CTO) and Paulo Carreira (CSO).