The 'ship' we were all waiting for - Estonia's Starship Technologies and Bolt have finally gotten it together

'We have really gotten to the point where we have grown up," says Starship co-founder and CTO Ahti Heinla as we grab a word with him about the new commercial partnership with fellow Estonian company Bolt
The 'ship' we were all waiting for - Estonia's Starship Technologies and Bolt have finally gotten it together

In news that perhaps we were all kind of waiting to happen at some point, Starship Technologies, the autonomous delivery services, has formed a commercial partnership with mobility provider Bolt. The Estonian companies have occupied the same space for some time in Tallinn and finally we’ll see the option of a Starship robot delivering the goods on the Bolt Food app.

“Both Bolt and Starship have created innovative products which have revolutionised the way people move around and buy and receive goods in cities," says Jevgeni Kabanov, Bolt’s President. “We’re excited to bring our two services together through this new collaboration, which will provide millions of Bolt Food customers with a new, sustainable delivery option fulfilled by Starship’s smart and much-loved service which has had great success over the past five years. In the longer term we are hopeful about expanding our collaboration to make deliveries cheaper and more accessible to even more customers.”

To grab more information on the partnership we had a word with Starship co-founder and CTO Ahti Heinla.

Two Estonian companies are joining forces, was this something that you always had in mind for the long run?

Yes, definitely, I have known the Bolt founders, and they have known me, for quite some time. It definitely makes a lot of sense, you know, for one company that is an important player in the delivery market, and on a global scale, and the other company that is automating and doing the deliveries themselves, for them to cooperate. You might actually ask why only now?

Yes, what has taken you so long?

Exactly! I’d say over all at Starship we have really gotten to the point where we have grown up from, the times many years ago, when we were running prototypes - now we are running a full commercial service, which is actually lower cost than the human courier. 

That is a very big milestone which actually opens the door to these commercial partnerships - of course, it's an exciting thing, delivery by robots, but they also want to see how they can save money, and now is the time where we can offer real cost savings to the companies. 

A number of years ago, our operation was not profitable - now we have grown up the business, it's actually making money, now it's time to scale.

How will the partnership play out? What’s the offering for customers?

They will see it in the Bolt Food app. We are integrating with them in their delivery platform – we will start with Tallinn then we are going to be definitely expanding beyond that. We are doing this for a 'really scaling' commercial partnership and Bolt has a lot of scale. 

Will we still see the Starship app in use?

We still have the Starship app as well – we are primarily using the Starship app, for example, in some of the college campuses in the US where there just is no other delivery pipeline - we are cooperating with Grubhub on some of the campuses - but overall Starship’s business model is to offer delivery services to companies like Bolt.

Another big milestone that we have achieved is that we have now passed 5 million deliveries. 

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