104: Keith Tan on ELLA, Singapore's Robotic Barista

The Adrian Tan Show

16-12-2022 • 35 mins

Keith Tan is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Crown Digital, a Robotics and Coffee start-up solving key challenges in the F&B industry.

Previously from the wealth management industry, Keith was inspired to build a business of his own, and left his job at the age of 35 to embark on his entrepreneurial journey with coffee. Crown Coffee’s first outlet was opened in 2016. Keith was passionate about coffee, the craft and his customers, but soon realised that it was hard to scale up the business due to a shortage of skilled labour, high rental costs and a challenge in maintaining consistent quality. This led Keith to think out of the box, seeking ways to infuse science and technology into the art of coffee making.

The inspiration for a robotic barista came about after Keith tested a robot arm picking up and serving croissants to guests at a corporate innovation center. This sparked an eureka moment that led him to create his very own robotic barista, after learning robotics from scratch. Eventually hiring his own team of software developers, Keith took all of his operations in-house and Crown Digital was born in 2018, with the purpose of delivering autonomous, unmanned retail solutions that tackle manpower challenges and optimise F&B operations.

If you are wondering about why the name ELLA, it came about when he came across Rihanna's hit song ‘Umbrella’ came over the speakers and the stars aligned – he knew instantly that Ella was the perfect name for his robot barista!

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