Autonomo secures £2m funding, kickstarting expansion into the UK and throughout Europe

 Autonomo – the start-up behind checkout-free software that enables retailers to convert existing stores into a cashierless shopping experience – has successfully closed a £2m seed funding round, it was announced today.

Led by London-based Potter Ventures, the team behind the inamo restaurant group, and Liverpool-based UK investors River Capital through their award-winning EIS growth fund ‘fund:AI’. This latest round brings Autonomo’s total funds raised to ca. £3.8 million, with previous investment coming from a number of parties, including members of The Edeka Group, Germany’s largest supermarket corporation and angel investment from current and former directors at Aldi, Delivery Hero, Metro, Carrefour, Apple and Brookstreet Equity Partners of Mayfair.

The funding marks a significant milestone for the tech firm, founded by James Sutherland and the former Metro CEO Patrick Müller-Sarmiento, and will be used to bring Autonomo’s computer-vision powered checkout solutions to the UK, after already proving highly successful in Germany in petrol stations, convenience and grab-and-go stores.

Since its launch in 2021, Autonomo has established itself as a serious player in the checkout-free software field, and is on target to automate the largest number of cashierless shops in western Europe by the end of this year.

The process of using the Autonomo cashierless system is simple: customers simply tap a payment card or phone. Accurate computer vision technology installed throughout the store then anonymously tracks the shopper matching them to the products they pick up. To checkout, the shopper just exits the store and the Autonomo platform automatically takes payment after itemising all the items.

This system not only offers clients’ shoppers a smoother, more enjoyable in-store experience – a concept awarded the Harvard Alumni Accelerator prize and Best Customer Experience RETA award – but its computer vision-powered inventory and behavioural recognition capabilities also help to deter theft and reduce shrinkage.

In comparison to figures in Germany, theft occurring in retail stores is a much bigger issue in the UK, with the problem causing £2bn of losses to UK retail businesses last year alone and the latest data from the Office for National Statistics revealing that shoplifting rates in England and Wales, in particular, have hit the highest level in more than 20 years.

“Working with bright new investors and constantly opening stores is one way to measure success, but the other really heart-warming impact our stores have is on the local shoppers, where we fundamentally improve their lives,” says James Sutherland, CEO of Autonomo.

“We believe in a world where queues, staff inefficiencies and theft are a thing of the past. With our system, we’ve seen hyper-local neighbourhood stores opening up again, stores opening 24/7 and theft drop to near zero. And because it can be scaled to accommodate various store sizes and formats and is significantly more cost-effective than some competitors, we’ve been able to make this tech accessible to both small and large-scale retailers. Combining our tried and tested tech with fresh investment, we’re excited to make a mark on the UK retail space and bring these benefits to Britain’s businesses,” he adds.

Autonomo is currently open to further investment, with tax relief available to UK taxpayers under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), a HMRC-run scheme that helps younger, higher-risk businesses raise finance by offering investors generous tax reliefs.

Commenting on the investment, David Walters, Investment Director at River Capital says: “Fund:AI is proud to support Autonomo’s trajectory towards becoming the leading Autonomous store provider in Western Europe, utilising UK capital and AI expertise in the North of England to create new deep tech jobs, tapping into the world class data science expertise from the North West region. Our due diligence revealed a pressing need for innovation in grocery retail, where skill shortages and consumer demands for seamless shopping experiences are evident. Autonomo’s solution not only addresses these challenges, but also empowers retailers to enhance customer service and sustainability practices, making it an exciting investment opportunity for us.”