For those who never tire of having something new arrive at their doorstep, the options from Philly-founded companies are plentiful. Of course, there’s the international-facing Gopuff, which recently graduated to an eye-popping $15 billion valuation. But on the startup end, we have a few more eco-friendly options in the form of Lula and The Rounds.
Starting this week, The Rounds cofounders Alexander Torrey and Byungwoo Ko are bringing their Center City-headquartered delivery service to D.C.
The Rounds, which first launched as Mlkmn back in 2019, delivers household and pantry staples like oats, toilet paper and cleaning products to a customer’s door in reusable packaging such as glass bottles. When a user is done, The Rounds picks the packaging up again, rinses it and repeats, similar to a milkman model. Plus, it uses predictive technology to determine when a refill will be needed, instead of requiring customers to place another order.
The goal? Lower the amount of waste from individual, disposable orders.
“We’re trying to really run our own playbook, especially in a space that is so crowded with everybody wanting to deliver your avocado in 10 minutes in a very unsustainable way,” Torrey told Technical.ly. “That’s not our game.”
With the D.C. expansion, Torrey said the first of the company’s “Neighborhood Refillment Centers” will be located in the Mount Vernon Triangle area, and is able to deliver orders via ebike or on foot within a two-mile radius. As the company grows, the cofounders hope to add more centers and shorten the radius of the current location to keep each within neighborhood boundaries.
It might happen sooner than you think, because Torrey expects the D.C. market to boom — and fast. Philly has already added a few neighborhoods since January, including Fishtown, Queen Village and into West Philadelphia. But he said The Rounds is already on track to grow in D.C. in 30 days at a rate that took the company several months to do in its origin city. (He declined to share specific numbers.)
This growth “has a little bit to do with the fact that D.C. has a very strong young professional demographic, but I really do think … as a city, [D.C.] really resonates with our value proposition of this idea of sustainable convenience,” Torrey said.
Earlier this year, The Rounds also began a fundraising round with participation from Red & Blue Ventures and the Dorm Room Fund supported by First Round Capital. Torrey declined to share an update on the raise, but said “the market is hot right now” and things are going well in the sustainable delivery space. Membership at the startup is $6 month and prices, Torrey added, are competitive with area stores. (In D.C., a set of Scotch-Brite brand, plant-based sponges is current running at $1 apiece).
With the new name, the cofounders believe the company is able to better reflect the breadth of services it offers, as well as reflect its eco-friendly approach.
“We want our members to think less about that meandering list of things you need — the paper towels, the dishwashing soap, the dog food,” Torrey said. “We picked The Rounds because we come to your neighborhood on the same day every week to keep your home, not just your fridge, stocked perfectly. And when The Rounds comes by we lighten your load, lessen your trash, and clear some mental mess to let your brain breathe.”
P.S. You can spot The Rounds supporting local software firm MilkCrate’s forthcoming Glitter app, which will pay Philadelphians to keep their blocks clean.
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