Bezos Expeditions Contributes to $7 Million Round for Heartland Robotics

8/21/09Follow @wroush

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we see that the value of what we’re doing is very clear to them. That has come back and told us a very clear story that it’s time to grow the company, and build a product and get it out there into the marketplace.”

Sobalvarro said Heartland’s new lead investor “is absolutely a top tier firm and understands [the company's value proposition] clearly. We’ve very excited about having them on board, because they are people who really know how to help us build a business, and we’re excited to be working together with them.”

Extrapolating from Sobalvarro’s comments, it might not be unwarranted to speculate that Heartland’s technology includes robotic devices that could help workers in facilities such as Amazon distribution centers. In that case, Heartland might be treading into territory partially staked out by Woburn, MA-based Kiva Systems, which makes fleets of small robots for automated fulfillment at large warehouses.

But for now, Sobalvarro says, the speculation will have to remain speculation: “We look forward to telling that story, but it’s a very big proposition and it’s going to be a big business, and we need to be careful that we protect our intellectual property and that we get the story out at the appropriate time.”

The $7 million funding round will come in handy, because Sobalvarro says the company is “about to increase the team size considerably. We’re going to be bringing in a bunch of experienced engineering talent.” He says the company has already hired Miki Rosenberg, a veteran product development executive from the medical devices industry, as its vice president of engineering.

Sobalvarro says early prototyping has demonstrated the feasibility of the company’s concept, “so we are growing the team to do the execution and product development. That’s what this round does: it lets us develop a product and get out there with our customers and design partners and continue to build value in the company.”

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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