Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the company’s total venture capital funding to date. Gatik has raised $29.5 million to date.
Even before the pandemic struck, Gautam Narang says, the self-driving truck company he co-founded three years ago had gained momentum with customers.
But since COVID-19 arrived, stretched supply chains and accelerated growth of delivery trends with consumers, Narang, CEO of Gatik, says interest in autonomous goods-hauling has mushroomed.
The pandemic "changed everything," he said. "We saw a huge spike in the number of orders that our vehicles were fulfilling, and the number of runs we were doing for our customers. … We've expedited our deployments. We've added vehicles ahead of schedule."
Gatik added to that momentum last week, signing a contract with another major partner. The company will begin hauling goods for Loblaw Cos., the largest Canadian food retailer, in January. Gatik will deploy five of its Ford Transit 350 box trucks in the partnership, running them on five routes between delivery hubs and retail stores as often as 12 hours per day, seven days a week.
The company is already delivering goods for Walmart in Arkansas. The latest partnership gives Gatik another foothold amid increasing competition in the self-driving trucking realm.
Investors have noticed. At the same time Gatik inked the Loblaw deal, the startup added $25 million in a Series A funding round that included participation from Dynamo Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, Wittington Ventures and others, bringing its total venture capital funding to $29.5 million.
The additional funds arrive at a time when Gatik has seen a 30 to 35 percent increase in orders from existing customers, who are seeing increased demand for delivery amid the pandemic. Narang says the company has completed more than 30,000 revenue-generating orders.