Wheelys Inc, a Swedish Y Combinator startup running bike cafe franchise covering some 60 countries, said has acquired technology for running unmanned stores, expanding the brand’s retail revolution to a new field.
Näraffär store, developed by Robert Ilijason, have no staff. The store uses an app only system – it allows the customer to open the store doors, add goods to the shopping bag and check out.
The store in Viken, a village of around 4,200 inhabitants on Sweden’s south-east coast, has got a lot of international attention, as they are pioneering the technology full year ahead of Amazon’s unmanned store.
“What Robert has done with Näraffär is amazing, and ahead of its time. The concept fits perfectly into Wheelys mobile platform, and by using our resources, we can now take another giant step into the future of retail,” Tomas Mazetti, co-Founder of Wheelys, said in a statement. Ilijason will stay with Wheelys as a senior technical adviser.
Wheelys Café is built on the on lowering the barrier to entry into cafe business – while franchising Starbucks or any other major brands could cost hundreds of thousands, Wheelys sells “a high-tech mobile café” for a few thousand dollars.
It has used crowdfunding to kickstart its global ambitions, raising more than $1 million in total on Fundedbyme and Indiegogo, and on top of that, it closed a $2.5 million seed round in early 2016. It’s latest, August 2016 funding round on Fundedbyme valued the firm at 9 million euros.
It has said it plans to raise additional $2 million by the end of 2016, but has not unveiled the deal yet.