A friendly conversation with a chatbot-barman while an AI-powered robot is serving your drink might seem like a scene from a science fiction movie. Not in Estonia. As many tech solutions of future, especially in the AI sphere are born here.
The eye-catching Yanu bar is not only visually attractive but offering a practical user experience. Yanu is serving soft drinks, juices and four non-alcoholic cocktails created by the award-winning barman Kristo Tomingas. The customer can place his order at one of three iPad screens and pay by credit card. The robotic arm gets to work, reaching for a glass, the correct ingredients and mixes and serves the drink within less than a minute. It looks a bit like a robot ballet.
Yanu cannot perhaps just yet replace a joke-cracking barman or someone highly skilled making amazing individual cocktail creations, but the AI-powered chatbot is learning fast and is up to giving recommendations for drinks.
The founder of Yanu, Alan Adojaan, has operated bars, restaurants and night-clubs for 15 years and came up with an automated bar out of experienced necessity: “The main problems in this business are always related to staff – lack of it, unreliability, efficiency. In a bar there are certain peak hours, where the demand is extremely high, and you’d need more staff for just some concentrated hours while they would have nothing to do during the rest of the shift. The pandemic has made service jobs even less popular, as people want to avoid close contacts. It might seem that the robot takes away a job from humans but actually it is filling a gap. We want to solve the staff problem for a bar operator, and this is especially relevant due to heightened demand for contact-free service.”
For a bar operator, Yanu helps to resolve issues like high labour cost, theft, managing shifts, slow service and social distancing. The main field of operation for Yanu is in fact large venues and situations where a big number of people need to be served quickly – airports, festivals, sports events, casinos etc. One robotic arm can mix 100 drinks per hour while customers can place their orders and pay via app from their own mobile device and just pick up their drink when it’s ready.
However, there is also interest from smaller bars and hotels as the automatic bar is a visual attraction and a bit of an entertainment by itself. The outstanding design by JanKen interior design agency was inspired by sci-fi movies.
The robotics superstar, professor Alvo Aabloo of the University of Tartu, combines latest academic knowledge with the practical application of technology. The Yanu workshop is located in Tartu, Estonia, where the robotics team assembles the machines.
Yanu is looking for an investment
Founded in 2018, Yanu has two working prototypes and two more to come. You can see one of these bartender robots working at Song Festival Grounds in Tallinn and the other in Dubai. Yanu is currently in the prototyping phase and is looking for new partners to work with. According to Alan Adojaan, the COVID pandemic has had a very good impact on the company, as contactless services are required on both sides – both service companies and end users want to reduce the risk of becoming ill.
Adojaan told Invest Estonia that his company has currently 180 potential customers on their Pipedrive list, 23 of whom have also entered into pre-contracts. The company currently has two paying customers and negotiations with five are nearing completion in the coming months. The greatest interest is shown by companies in Europe and the Persian Gulf region. Most of them are restaurants, clubs, bars, casinos, real estate developers, event and festival organizers.
Yanu plans to go into production in 2022, at the InCap factory in Saaremaa, Estonia.
Want to invest in Yanu or some other Estonian startup? Feel free to contact us via e-Consulting in order to schedule an appointment with one of our investment advisors. We will gladly help you on your journey to start building your own unicorn in Estonia.