Philadelphia-based technology company Lula, which transforms convenience stores into last-mile micro-fulfillment centers, recently closed its first round of seed funding to expand its operations at a time when digital order delivery has caught the attention of consumers nationwide.
Alongside Exelon Corp., Lula also received investment from SOSV and Plug and Play Ventures, among others. SOSV is a global venture capital firm providing multi-stage investment to startups solving challenging problems with disruptive solutions. Plug and Play Ventures is the world’s largest early-stage investor, accelerator and corporate innovation platform with global headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif.
SOSV & Plug and Play Ventures were early investors in Rappi, Google, PayPal, Dropbox, JUMP, Honey, Kustomer and Guardant Health.
Drexel University graduates Adit Gupta and Tom Falzani, a pair of technologists, founded the company after unsuccessfully attempting to bring Gupta’s family’s shuttered convenience store in South New Jersey online amidst the pandemic.
According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), there are approximately 150,000 convenience stores in the U.S., two-thirds of which are independently operated with 93% of Americans within a 10-minute drive of any one of them. However, just under half of the North American c-stores offer delivery, compared to over 80% of European, Australian and Asian stores.
The Gupta and Falzani team quickly realized the tremendous market opportunity to build a nationally scalable instant-needs delivery service without the laborious task of re-building micro-fulfillment centers.
Lula aims to use innovative techniques to digitize existing convenience store inventories, ultimately making life easier for c-store operators. It enables 30-minute delivery for stores by syncing inventories across all popular delivery platforms, including Uber EATS, Postmates, Grubhub, Doordash and Lula’s subscription-based marketplace.
Customers can find virtual store listings on these platforms under the “convenience” section, labeled as “Lula Convenience Store.” Store operators can seamlessly manage sales, orders and all inventory from a single platform – eliminating the problem of needing five or more tablets to manage last-mile delivery.
Partnering stores see a 30% increase in revenue by delivering their existing 3,000-plus products within a 10-mile delivery radius. Lula can readily onboard stores remotely in all 50 states in the U.S. market.
Lula currently serves convenience stores in New York, New Jersey, Florida and its hometown of Philadelphia. The company has already seen significant growth with customers ordering daily, many of whom come back to order again. Lula plans to use the investment to grow the existing team and expand nationally in new markets through 2022.
With a daily growing number of partners, the team is impacting the c-store community by democratizing e-commerce for stores that may traditionally not have the means to deliver online.