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NM firm raises $5M to speed up cleaning robot deployment

·2 min read

Jan. 11—Albuquerque-based Build with Robots got a $5 million boost from New Mexico-based investors to accelerate deployment of its "Breezy One" mobile machine for autonomous disinfection of facilities.

About 40 investors participated in the new funding round, led by Artesia-based private equity firm Abo Empire. The Arrowhead Investment Fund at New Mexico State University, the ABQid business accelerator run by CNM Ingenuity, and the New Mexico Angels also contributed.

The Angels, in particular, helped build a coalition of individual investors to commit to the equity raise, constituting the largest angel-driven round of funding in that group's history, according to NM Angels President Drew Tulchin.

"Good companies can raise significant money in New Mexico with collective effort," Tulchin said in a statement.

The company, which launched in 2017, reached out specifically to local investors to build on the startup's New Mexico-based foundation, said company co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Matthew Ennis.

"We're trying as much as we can to build this into a New Mexico success story," Ennis told the Journal. "... We want to leverage what we have in the community to create a great local company and build value for the state."

The company previously raised about $1 million in seed funding. It also received $360,000 in state Local Economic Development Act financing last year, helping it move into a new 8,600-square-foot office suite Downtown. And it's received about $600,000 in various Job Training Incentive Program grants.

The new funding will help boost marketing of Breezy One, a small, rectangular-shaped robot on wheels that provides autonomous disinfection services for facilities large and small. About 20 robots are currently deployed at facilities in New Mexico and Texas, where customers have either bought the machines outright, or leased them under long-term contracts, Ennis said.

That includes robots at two airports, an industrial facility, and seven different schools in Texas, plus the Albuquerque International Sunport and St. Mary's Catholic School in Albuquerque.

The latest local customer is the University of New Mexico Pit, where robotic disinfection is done before every home game, providing an additional level of protection against COVID-19, said Lobo Athletics Vice President and Director Eddie Nuñez.

"Breezy One helps us create a healthy environment to enjoy basketball," Nuñez said in a statement. "With Breezy, UNM Athletics is providing another measure to enable our ability to host events in our iconic Pit in a safe manner."

Contracts with new customers for four more robot deployments are now being finalized.

"We expect to have several hundred robots deployed by the end of 2022," Ennis said.

The company currently employs nearly 30 people, including 22 full-time staff members, plus contractors.