- Jay-Z’s venture capital firm is putting money into Stellar Pizza, a brand that will use pizza-making robots housed in a food truck that delivers the pie to the customer’s doorstep.
- Stellar Pizza says it will roll out its first truck at the University of Southern California this fall, with more college campuses to follow.
Can hip-hop icon and entrepreneur Jay-Z turn Stellar Pizza, a robot-powered pizza brand from California, into a household name as famous as he is?
We’ll find out soon. Stellar Pizza has announced a $16.5 million Series A financing round led by Jay-Z’s venture capital firm, Marcy Venture Partners. The firm has invested in other major consumer brands, such as Savage x Fenty and Therabody.
According to a press release, previously unannounced fundraising rounds for Stellar Pizza totaled $9 million, led by Root Ventures with participation from Crosslink Capital and Collaborative Fund.
The funding enables Stellar Pizza to make strategic internal investments ahead of its launch at the University of Southern California this fall, with additional college campuses to follow, according to the company.
As PMQ reported last November, Stellar Pizza was founded in 2019 by a trio of ex-SpaceX engineers, including CEO Benson Tsai, who leads the team alongside Brian Langone and James Wahawisan. Tapping into the world-class engineering talent that Southern California has to offer, the founding Stellar Pizza team is comprised of more than 30 former SpaceX employees. The rocket science background also extends to the culinary division, led by chef Ted Cizma—the former executive chef and director of culinary services at SpaceX—with creative oversight from pizza master Noel Brohner.
The Stellar Pizza team has created an automated, touchless machine—housed in a huge red food truck—that bakes pizza from scratch, including fresh toppings, in under five minutes.
The Stellar Pizza experience begins as most groundbreaking technology does: on an app. Immediately after guests order their pizza, a ball of dough is dispensed from the refrigerator and pressed into a 12” pie. House-made sauce and fresh toppings are added before the pizza is automatically launched into a 900° F oven. Once the pizza is done, a conveyor retrieves it from the oven before it’s cut and boxed.
The Stellar Pizza truck has the capacity to make 420 pizzas, while a single pizza takes less than five minutes to prepare.
As a restaurant that drives directly to the customer, Stellar Pizza removes the need for expensive real estate while reducing the cost of labor with the use of compact robotics. Stellar Pizza is in the process of building a fleet of mobile pizza restaurants, with the intention of building a nationwide brand over the next few years, the company said.