Ready Robotics, a Johns Hopkins spinout and early tenant of City Garage, is moving its headquarters from Baltimore to Columbus, Ohio, CEO Benjamin Gibbs said.
The move will follow the recent closing of a $15 million funding round led by Drive Capital, a Columbus-based venture firm founded by former Sequoia Capital partners that focuses on Midwestern startups. Previous investors Eniac Ventures, RRE Ventures and Emerald Development Management also participated. The news was first reported by VentureBeat.
While it will open a new office and shift the headquarters, Gibbs said Ready Robotics will not be leaving Baltimore entirely. The company will maintain an R&D group, as well as a sales and marketing presence as it looks to continue working with manufacturing companies in the mid-Atlantic.
A Johns Hopkins FastForward startup that originated from research at the university’s engineering school by cofounder Kelleher Guerin, Ready Robotics aims to make it easier for small and medium–sized manufacturers to deploy robots for repetitive tasks. The startup makes a tool called the TaskMate that includes hardware for robotic arms and a corresponding software platform. It’s designed to be outfitted with different tools for multiple kinds of tasks on a manufacturing floor, and moves on wheels. The company topped Technical.ly Baltimore’s 2018 realLIST of promising startups.
In fall 2017, the company signed a distribution deal with Baltimore-based Arnold Automation. Stanley Black and Decker also purchased a TaskMate after a trial deployment and work with its Infrastructure Innovation Center in Towson. Around that time, Gibbs said the company would be expanding within City Garage.
Gibbs said Drive Capital’s model focuses on putting companies near potential customers, and the move will put Ready Robotics close to manufacturers in the Midwest.
“This isn’t like we’re packing up shop and moving everything to the Midwest,” he said, echoing a point he reiterated a few times during an interview. “We’re expanding our footprint so we can add customers from the mid-Atlantic and Midwest more effectively.”
Going forward, Gibbs said the size of the space the company will maintain and number of employees remains under discussion. The former Johns Hopkins tech transfer official said he will split time between the two cities. The company currently has about 30 employees.
Along with taking up space at City Garage in Port Covington, Ready Robotics received early investment from Kevin Plank–backed Sagamore Ventures.
“From the very beginning, the goal of City Garage was to help Baltimore companies grow, and eventually outgrow the space – much like an accelerator. Ready Robotics is an exciting example,” Demian Costa, managing partner of Sagamore Ventures, said in a statement. While we are sorry to see them leave, we look forward to watching their continued growth and success, and we remain an investor in the company.”
Costa said a new startup will soon take up residence at City Garage, “to be announced shortly.”