Business development / Environment / Startups

Sustainability-focused delivery startup The Rounds tries its model in sprawling Atlanta

"A lot of other startups are proving their models work in New York City, but a lot of cities in the country, in fact — most cities in the country — look more like Atlanta than look like New York," cofounder Alexander Torrey said.

The Rounds expanded to Atlanta May 1. (Courtesy photo)
Sustainability-focused delivery service The Rounds, which delivers private-label and local home and food products direct to users’ doors, is ready to test its model in a new kind of city.

The service launched in 2020 in Philadelphia, then expanded in 2021 to DC, another city with a dense downtown and close-knit neighborhoods. On March 1, it expanded to Miami, a southern city that will be feeling the effects of climate change soon, cofounder Alexander Torrey told then.

And as of May 1, it’s also live in Atlanta. The company is following an East Coast expansion plan in quick succession, but the newest city on its roster presents different challenges to its first three — it has a lot of sprawl and patches of density, Torrey said.

“It’s been important for us to continue to learn and prove our model will work in very different markets,” the cofounder said. “That’s what we’re excited about. It’s going to teach us a lot about how to operate.”

The model — a subscription-based service delivered via company-provided ebikes and local delivery people — has worked well so far in the deeply connected neighborhoods of its first three cities. Torrey and cofounder Byungwoo Ko first launched the service in Philadelphia’s Center City, offering a slew of staples like hand soap, toilet paper and household cleaners, plus pantry-stable foods.

But branching out and showing that the delivery service, and making sustainable choices “effortless” in cities outside of the Northeast, is important, Torrey said. No real changes to the business model are coming, but they’ll be testing and learning from deliveries in a different kind of city.

“A lot of other startups are proving their models work in New York City, but a lot of cities in the country, in fact — most cities in the country — look more like Atlanta than look like New York,” he said.

The Atlanta launch was quick turnaround from Miami’s launch; it takes about four weeks to get a city up and running with the hiring of a local team, per Torrey. The Rounds spent a week soft-launching the city with friends and family before the official May 1 start, including participating in the city’s first Green Market featuring sustainability-focused brands, in honor of Earth Day.

Torrey said Atlanta has been part of the company’s plan for some time, and the city’s become a huge inspiration in terms of cultural influences. The quickly growing startup scene was also a huge plus, he said.

“In the city you can feel the energy and the significance of what Atlanta is doing,” he said. “We want to be part of that and add to that, not just come in and ride the coat tails. We want to make our mark non-stop pushing forward with sustainable alternatives.”

Companies: The Rounds

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