Summary:

Double Robotics’ iPad-eqipped telepresence robot is the first beneficiary of the $25m fund Grishin announced earlier this year. His cash will help Double ramp up manufacturing, which will be useful as early demand has been high.

Dmitry Grishin, Mail.ru

Last time we caught up with Mail.ru CEO Dmitry Grishin, he was launching a $25m fund to stimulate the robotics startup industry. It looks like he’s making good on that promise: on Friday Grishin Robotics announced a $250k investment in Y Combinator grad Double Robotics.

Double Robotics is one of a new generation of robotics firms that’s trying to bring the technology to the masses at a reasonable price. Its product, the ‘Double’, is a telepresence robot that uses a couple of iPads (one for control, one for the telepresence imagery) and costs $2,499, although it has a lower pre-order price of $1,999.

“[The] Double Robotics investment perfectly aligns to our strategy,” Grishin said. “It is a very consumer-oriented product with potential to fit a very wide range of applications and has already proven a strong consumer demand.”

Robots for the masses

I’d hesitate to call it a consumer product myself, but I can certainly see its application in many organizations. Telepresence has never been a cheap technology – though the cost is falling – and the Double’s use of iPads is a clever way to keep prices down.

And it seems to be working. In its first post-launch month, Double Robotics apparently picked up 600 pre-orders, equating to $1.2m, from buyers in 44 countries. According to Grishin, whose fund comprises his own cash, the first customers include 24 universities and 17 Fortune 500 companies.

That interest has led to scaling problems, which is where Grishin’s cash – the first to be parcelled out since the fund launched – comes in. With the first run already sold out, the fresh injection should allow the second set to be delivered early next year. It also looks like there may be further play between Grishin and Double in the future.

“We are thrilled to have Grishin Robotics and Dmitry Grishin, in particular, as our largest investor to date,” Double Robotics co-founder David Cann said. “After our public launch in August, we met with Grishin Robotics and were immediately impressed with their mission and deep knowledge of the robotics industry’s past mistakes and potential future. We look forward to working with Grishin Robotics in the years to come as we build our business.”

Here’s a reminder of what the Double looks like:

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