It’s been just over a year since The Rounds, a zero-waste delivery service for household essentials, first started operating in select Intown Atlanta neighborhoods.
Now, the venture-backed startup is making its first major expansion play both inside and outside of the Perimeter.
The Rounds announced this Tuesday that it is growing its service areas to include all of “ITP” (inside the I-285 loop) and northern suburbs like Roswell, Dunwoody, and Sandy Springs. The expansion more than triples the startup’s delivery area and brings nearly one million households into the fold.
When co-founders Alex Torrey (an Atlanta native and UGA graduate) and Byungwoo Ko started The Rounds in 2019 in Philadelphia, a major goal was to help young urban professionals get “the value of bulk without the hassle of bulk” through home delivery of kitchen and bathroom essentials in refillable and zero-waste packaging options.
But the average Atlantan on the platform has expanded that business use case.
“We got early traction in apartment buildings. But in Atlanta, we have seen incredible demand from families. Out of all of our markets, Atlanta has the highest average order value,” Torrey told Hypepotamus.
Traction across the city, specifically within single-family homes, is a sign that consumers are seeking sustainable shopping alternatives and are looking for ways to reduce their packaging waste. The startup says the average customer diverts 50 pounds of packaging waste away from the landfill each year.
“Sustainability-minded people are everywhere. They’re just called modern consumers….[they’re] not just hippie tree huggers,” Torrey added.
How The Rounds Works
The Rounds is competing not only with the supermarket chain around the corner, but also with the Amazons and Instacarts of the world. But as a logistics and sustainable last-mile delivery service, The Rounds is making sustainable shopping convenient for the average consumer buying daily household items.
Members log onto The Rounds each week and select the pantry items, produce, toiletries, pet food, and baby items they need. Those items are packed in sustainable, reusable containers at Neighborhood Refill Centers (NRCs) that have been set up across the city. Then a dedicated delivery person, known as a “Rounder,” uses an electric van or bike to drop off items and pick up empty containers from the previous week.
Think of it as a modern-day milkman delivering oat milk and your favorite type of cereal. Or, more accurately, an Amazon alternative that doesn’t leave you with wasted packaging and cardboard boxes that get discarded in the trash immediately.
More Neighborhoods, More Services
Atlanta may have been the last market that The Rounds opened, but it is the first that the startup expanded in such a significant way, Torrey told Hypepotamus.
On top of geographic expansion, The Rounds has also increased its sustainable-focused services recently. The delivery startup now offers composting services, recycling, soda stream refills, and donation pickups. Since launching in Atlanta, the platform has also grown from 200 to 500 products available for weekly home delivery. Beyond just dry goods, The Rounds now also offers fresh produce and some of Atlanta’s favorite treats like Alon’s Bakery croissants, We Three Girls Granola, Chrome Yellow Coffee beans, and Emerald City Bagels.
Of course, expanding a hyperlocal business to over one million houses requires a lot of boots on the ground (or in this case, more e-bikes on the road). Instead of leaning into the gig worker model for neighborhood drop offs, The Rounds has W-2 employees with full benefits, something that Torrey said has helped the startup attract better talent.
It is all about positioning The Rounds as a “one stop shop for a sustainable lifestyle” that is as convenient as other delivery services, Torrey added. “The more of your shopping lists that you can put on The Rounds and the faster as a business we can grow, the bigger our environmental impact is.”