Delivery subscription service Lula has raised a $5.5 million round of seed funding, its founders announced Thursday. The startup allows convenience stores — from bodegas to chains like 7-Eleven — to list inventory for local delivery.
The round is led by Ripple Ventures, Outlander VC and Up Partners with participation from SOSV, Simple Capital, NZVC, Stonks.com, EasyPost, Park City Angels, Alumni Ventures and local investors Broad Street Angels and Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Last summer, the company raised $1 million in pre-seed money to expand to 30 states.
Lula’s technology allows convenience stores to list and keep track of their inventory for delivery by third-party drivers for a subscription fee — between $50 and $99 per location per month — and gets paid back for purchases made through the app every week or month, based on their preference. Lula cofounder and CEO Adit Gupta saw his family’s store struggle when lockdowns began, and with cofounder and CPO Tom Falzani, realized there was a market opportunity for a scalable, instant-needs delivery service without needing to build micro-fulfillment centers around the region.
“We digitize an entire store, syndicate their inventory to all major delivery platforms (including ours), and we then also let them manage all sales through one app compared to four to six tablets,” Gupta said.
In September, the company — which Technical.ly named to its RealLIST Startups 2021 list — teamed up with Uber to bring its service to stores across the country. It had been operating in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Arizona and Pennsylvania, but the partnership would make expanding to all 50 states is “definitely doable” by the end of 2022, Gupta said then. By the end of 2021, the company had grown to 30 cities.
Since the fall, the Philly-headquartered Lula team had grown to 33 people, Gupta said, with team members in eight states and across three continents. They aim to pass 2,000 national stores by the end of the year, and have about 10 open roles.
This round of investment came from solid work on relationships, the CEO said. SOSV is a return investor to this round, but many new venture capitalists came to the table this time around.
“Over the year since the last raise, I built relationships with people that I thought would be incredibly team members,” Gupta said. “Sent them consistent monthly updates (and continuing to do this now). I also used existing investors to get introductions to other companies they co-invested in.”
Matt Cohen, managing partner of Ripple Ventures, said in a statement that he was “extremely proud” of Gupta’s journey through the VC firm’s RippleX fellowship program, which teaches startup building and fundraising skills.
“I’m excited to see Lula ramping up to make delivery services accessible to local businesses,” Cohen said. “The pandemic has hit Main Street hard, and Lula is a great way for local merchants to access the rapidly growing delivery space.”-30-