Today, 6 River Systems announced that they are teaming up with Shopify to build the next-generation fulfillment network powered by robotics and AI. This represents a major milestone for the robotics industry that has seen few exits of this magnitude outside of Amazon’s acquisition of Kiva Systems in 2012.

6 River Systems (6 River) is at the forefront of the 4th industrial revolution using AI and machine learning to optimize warehouse fulfillment.

When we led 6 River’s Series A in 2017, there were a number of things that stood out to us that ultimately made the company successful.

Those included:

  • Using AI to Drive Tangible ROI: 6 River was able to consistently demonstrate their solution provided a 2-3x productivity improvement for its customers. This kind of ROI made their solution a “no brainer” to adopt and helped the company gain significant commercial traction in a short period of time.
  • Flexible Business Model: 6 River used both a capital and subscription “rental” business model. This flexibility was appealing to their customers who wanted to move the capex for buying robots to opex for using robots. This also resonated with customers who wanted to bring in more robots on an on-demand basis during peak seasons like Christmas when they moved more inventory.  
  • Best Positioned Team: We believed that the experience the 6 River team had at Kiva Systems put them in the best position to build a next-generation company in the warehouse robotics space. They knew the customers and knew how to build solutions for them. Not only did the team blow us away with how well they executed, but they also demonstrated how well a co-CEO structure can work with the right combination of founders.

6 River’s technology spans a number of areas – AI, cloud, and hardware – which are key themes throughout Norwest’s portfolio. Investing in hardware can be particularly challenging given the expertise needed to manage manufacturing and gross margin.

At Norwest, we have been privileged to see a number of our AI-enabled / cloud companies with hardware components successfully exit with our most recent being Mist Systems to Juniper Networks earlier this year.

We are lucky to have had the opportunity to partner with the fantastic team at 6 River and are excited to see Jerome, Rylan and the entire team execute on their vision alongside their new family at Shopify.

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