By Tarad Alhasan
Henry Hu is the founder, & CEO of Cafex and was born and raised in China until going to the US to study entrepreneurship at Babson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
One day Henry was waiting in line for a coffee at the Singapore airport where he stood there for a good thiry minutes before the barista finally took his order. He was irritated and began looking at the other customers also in line- all of them visibly unhappy as well.
Henry Hu at Draper University, Spring 2019
It was then that Henry came up with an idea to change the basic barista job into a robotic barista; he dropped out of Babson and started working on his new idea. Henry started his new mission by learning CAD to create his first 3D design, then by experimenting with a robot machine with regular steel and went on to get help from a friend working at a steel manufacturer to build his first prototype.
As soon as the prototype was working, he needed investment to have a more functional robot. He was an avid listener of the Jason Calacanis podcast where he learned how to not only get in front of investors, but pitch to them as well. Jason has a venture capital fund that invest in early stage companies and an incubator, Jason loved the idea of Café X and invested in it. Café X has raised more than $14M since the start of the company.
Café X now has three location in san Francisco and will be opining the fourth location in San Francisco airport. Café X offers more than 13 different types of coffee, 4 milks, cold brew coffee and ice cream to top it off.
Ordering from a Café x is simple, you either order from the application or direct from the kiosk, you might find one coffee specialist around the Café x to give you some recommendations to what you should get or answer any other question about the robot. Café x is working with local coffee shops to get coffee beans and recipes, 50–60% of Café x customers are recurring customers that order directly from the application.
When Henry was asked about the future and vision of the company he said their focus is on increasing the menu, upgrading the robot to make it faster and more efficient, and the idea of expanding their robots to solve for the food and beverage industry. Henry believes that simple tasks in the restaurant should be fully automated.