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Need Something Fast? These Entrepreneurs Created a Fleet of Self-Driving 'Stores on Wheels' That You Can Hail With the Tap of a Button. Robomart co-founders Emad Suhail Rahim, Tigran Shahverdyan and Ali Ahmed explain how they got their big idea rolling.

By Dan Bova

Key Takeaways

  • Robomarts are self-driving shops on wheels, offering ice cream, convenience store products and quick-service restaurant meals.
  • The company was recently backed by Entrepreneur Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm partnered with Entrepreneur Media.

Entrepreneur Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm partnered with Entrepreneur Media that is dedicated to backing passionate and innovative founders as early as day one. In this series, we are profiling the amazing entrepreneurs that Entrepreneur Ventures is working with to share their insights on building and growing a thriving business.

When it comes to innovating in the delivery space, Emad Suhail Rahim, Tigran Shahverdyan and Ali Ahmed, the founders of Robomart, have their foot on the pedal. Their fleet of self-driving, on-demand "shops on wheels" has hit the road, bringing big-name brands to customers' curbs at the tap of a button.

Read on to learn all about their tech-forward business, their plan for growth, and their advice to entrepreneurs seeking investment for their dream projects.

Please give us the elevator pitch of the Robomart.

Emad Rahim: Robomarts are self-driving shops for cafes, ice cream parlors, convenience stores and quick-service restaurants — equipped with checkout-free shopping, temperature-controlled compartments, and advanced monitoring and security. They have been designed to be the smartest and most advanced shops in existence, giving retailers the ability to expand their footprint at 90 percent less cost, and consumers the ability to hail a store to their door in under 10 minutes.

Ali Ahmed: We own the patent for self-driving shops and the idea of one-tap ordering through store hailing. In the app, you can see what nearby Robomarts are stocked with. If you see something you want, you hail it, you get a push notification when it shows up, you head outside, slide to open the door through the app, and get your stuff. And that's it! We now have eight contracts signed for 102 Robomarts with the likes of Ben & Jerry's, Mars and a few other quick-service restaurants.

Credit: Robomart

How does it work, cost-wise?

Ali Ahmed: We're B2B, we license Robomarts to retailers. So consumers use our app to hail a store of our retail customers. So it's up to the retailers to define their pricing and set their inventory.

How did you three land on this idea?

Ali Ahmed: Emad and I worked together about 15 years ago. We're also cousins. He was in ice cream and I was in food at the time, and he wanted to recreate the ice cream van, but have it be for everything in retail. Now this predates smartphones, so the idea was to pick up a rotary dial phone and say send the store to me. It was a good idea, but way too early technologically speaking. So we parked the idea, and I went to the UK where I launched a company called Dispatch, which was the fastest-growing delivery service. I took my learnings from that experience and re-connected with Emad. Applying all of the new tech at our disposal, he figured out that a self-driving store would not only give retailers two to three times faster delivery, it'd be much less expensive than brick and mortar. So we developed a small model and took it to CES in 2018. It went viral at the show and it caught the attention of Tigran, whose background is in robotics and automation. We spoke and kicked around ideas and he became our third co-founder.

Related: How This Entrepreneurial Couple Is Revolutionizing Brand Loyalty

How do you approach business decision-making between the three of you?

Tigran Shahverdyan: When we founded the company we decided that since each of us has particular expertise, we would be responsible for decisions pertaining to our area of the business. Most major decisions are debated between us, and usually, we vote with a two-thirds majority. However in some cases if one of us feels extremely strongly about a decision the other two don't agree with, and it is directly related to our area of the business, then we defer to the founder with that expertise to make the final call. This model has worked incredibly well for us over the years.

Where do you see your company one year and five years from now?

Emad Rahim: In one year we should be finishing up deliveries to our initial eight customers for the first 100 robomarts, and renewing contracts to scale. Within five years, I expect fully autonomous Robomarts to comprise over 50 percent of our fleet — which will be operating across the U.S.

Credit: Robomart

Related: All True Entrepreneurs Share This One Personality Trait, Says the Founder of Spicewell

What do you think has been critical to your success in connecting and receiving funding from investors?

Tigran Shahverdyan: We have been recognized by investors as being the ideal founding team for this business, with my expertise in robotics, Emad's in retail and Ali's in on-demand delivery, and we have created the first new retail channel in 30 years which has gotten investors excited about our vision.

What is your advice to other entrepreneurs who are seeking funding?

Ali Ahmed: It's a grind. Fundraising is never easy and like that quote about eating glass — it won't kill you but it's not fun. Don't be discouraged if you are reading about deals being made and you feel like you're not getting anywhere. We all go through the same process. It's a numbers game. You have to devote a lot of your time to going through the necessary steps. Founders need to remember that they need to be like a duck. Be calm and collected above the water, and project an air of confidence that you have everything figured out. Meanwhile, below the surface, you're paddling like hell.

Related: Have an idea you're excited about? Pitch Entrepreneur Ventures Here.

Dan Bova

Entrepreneur Staff

VP of Special Projects

Dan Bova is the VP of Special Projects at Entrepreneur.com. He previously worked at Jimmy Kimmel Live, Maxim and Spy magazine. Check out his latest humor books for kids, including Wendell the Werewolf, Road & Track Crew's Big & Fast Cars, and The Big Little Book of Awesome Stuff.

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