Auckland smart-trolley startup Imagr is seeking to raise US$25 million through a private investor pool to expand the business internationally.
Founder and chief executive William Chomley said demand had soared for the firm's autonomous checkout system after the Covid-19 pandemic.
This month the company will kick off its Series A capital raise for the equivalent to $35m, seeking global investors to hold a stake in the company. The round will close early May, and Chomley said the business would "go out to targeted investors".
"There is strong [investor] interest in this retail area, some of our competitors have raised circa $100m so there is certainly the potential that one party could take the lot or it could be split amongst a couple of parties around the world," Chomley told the Herald.
Imagr had already received interest from investors in United States, Europe, Asia and Asia-Pacific region over the past six months.
Early last year Imagr raised $14m. Freshly raised capital would be spent on hiring staff - the company has plans to double the size of its team - and setting up a base in Europe and expanding its Japanese presence.
"We'll mainly be looking at [spending on] aspects of operationising the product itself, team growth, market expansion, additional sales activities, yes there is some aspects of manufacturing, but again we have distribution on top of that, and a little bit of support."
It would also further invest in research and development as it releases the next version of hardware and software later in the quarter, Chomley said.
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Imagr plans to almost double its team of 58 staff by November next year, with 7-8 additional staff spread across its Osaka office and through the establishment of a Tokyo base, and 5 to 10 for a team in Europe.
Imagr had recently signed a deal with a "couple of customers in Europe" but Chomley was unable to share details of the organisations. "In terms of setting up a base there, we have seen a huge amount of demand out of Europe, and the Asia region."
Japanese retail chain H2O Retailing is Imagr's biggest customer, using its smart shopping technology, which involves cameras on a "SmartCart" trolley and artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically identify items that a customer pulls off the shelves or puts back.
Once an item is put into the SmartCart, it appears in the virtual trolley smartphone app on a mobile device, with a running tally of goods.
When walking out of the store, purchases are automatically billed to your credit card (the only hold-up being alcohol, which requires a manual check).
The company plans to be live in eight supermarkets by the end of the year.