Business development / Delivery / Ecommerce / Economics / Partnerships

Convenience store delivery startup Lula is partnering with Uber to bring its tech to all 50 states

"They understand the lack of resources currently for these underpowered stores that want delivery," Lula cofounder Adit Gupta said of Uber.

Lula is going nationwide. (Courtesy photo)

Delivery subscription service Lula, which allows convenience stores from chains like 7-Eleven to local corner stores to list inventory for local delivery, has partnered with Uber to bring its service to stores across the country.

Lula cofounder Adit Gupta (who shut down real-time ratings app Vyb amid the coronavirus pandemic) saw his family’s store struggle when lockdowns began. He and cofounder 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, like the Philly-headquartered Gopuff.

The business could serve customers in the instant needs category, as well as small businesses and convenience store chains that have traditionally been left out of that market, Gupta said. The team, now up to 19 people, raised a pre-seed round earlier this summer.

Now, it has a partnership with Uber that will allow thousands more convenience stores to offer on-demand delivery with its technology through Uber Eats.

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.

A new version of the product launches next month, Gupta told Lula first began talking to Uber this year, and the support from a company as massive as Uber has helped the team grow, the cofounder said.

“They understand the lack of resources currently for these underpowered stores that want delivery, and they have given us the opportunity to get these stores to use our tech, to use our store as a virtual warehouse,” Gupta said.

Sustainability was a core pillar of the startup’s founding. Lula is providing recycled paper bags to each store it works with, and is moving toward water disposable bags. With this recent raise, Lula is increasing its hiring, with a current focus on marketing and operations pros. About half of its 19-person team is currently in the Philly area, and many are Drexel University alumni, like the cofounders themselves.

Lula is currently operating in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Arizona and Pennsylvania. With this Uber partnership, Gupta said expanding to all 50 states is “definitely doable” by the end of next year.

For Uber customers, Lula services will be available with Uber Eats, under a new category called “convenience.” The service will operate as that service already does — you place an order, and a driver heads to the convenience store with that inventory and delivers on demand.

“The mission has always been to help stores like my parents’ that are owned by a family, or are minority-owned — people who don’t have the resources to build an ecommerce store,” Gupta said.

Companies: Lula / Uber

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