Penn Medicine and Wharton Social Impact Initiative to help City of Philadelphia with better access to E-commerce.
Lula, the all-in-one delivery solution for convenience stores, today announced that it has received a $100,000 investment from the Penn Medicine – Wharton Fund for Health to strengthen access to e-commerce for independent store owners. The founders of Lula know – firsthand – the challenges that small convenience stores faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-founder Adit Gupta spent weeks during coronavirus-related lockdowns in 2020 trying to upload the inventory of his family’s store and leverage existing delivery apps, however there was no feasible way to make it work. The Gupta family’s convenience store closed, but it fueled a desire in Gupta and his Co-founder Tom Falzani to prevent the same from happening to other small, community businesses. That vision falls perfectly in line with the Penn Medicine – Wharton Fund for Health (“Fund for Health”), which has chosen to invest in Lula.
A joint partnership between Penn Medicine and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the Fund for Health seeks to invest in early-stage businesses striving to strengthen the health and social determinants of economically disadvantaged Philadelphians. Having already invested in three other start-ups, the Fund will invest millions of dollars over the next several years to push for measurable progress in socio-economic factors that can have lifelong effects.
“As a Philadelphian, I am thrilled to have the University of Pennsylvania support Lula and our mission to empower local businesses to leverage online commerce in ways that simply weren’t accessible before” said Adit Gupta, Co-founder and CEO of Lula.
Lula provides the platform and support necessary for small – and, often, family-owned – brick and mortar locations of stores (primarily convenience stores, and other such businesses) to access last-mile delivery on apps like DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber EATS, for the first time. This kind of support is a heavy lift for small businesses to attempt on their own, and most services are prohibitively expensive. But through Lula’s community business-targeted system, small stores are able to equitably provide their goods to local consumers who would otherwise buy them from larger online retailers. Through being able to compete in the now-dominant online marketplace, the stores and the livelihoods of community business owners and their employees are now protected.
“We are delighted that the Fund for Health could help boost another company addressing the social determinants of health in Philadelphia,” said Rajith Sebastian, co-director of the Fund for Health and Head of Impact Investments at the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.
An integral part of the Fund for Health is that it invites students into the sourcing, diligence, and decision-making process for investment, bringing in unique perspectives and also providing invaluable real-world experience for those still learning. One of the students on the investment team, Michael Karamardian, a second-year student at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, explained that the experience is “rewarding and unique.”
“Health care providers, in general, are privileged with an intimate knowledge of the extra-to-clinical needs of the patients they care for, and as a student it was really valuable to see how that information can be used to make major investments in our community,” said Karamardian.
It’s from that perspective that Karamardian explained why Lula stood out.
“We could see that the economic impact Lula can make on the communities we want to serve is both intentional and significant,” he said. “I was struck by how committed the Lula team is to making their unique solution available to those who need it most, as there seems to be no one else providing the same kind of service that they do.”
Lula is the only platform in the convenience store segment offering a 0% commission experience for merchants. Hundreds of companies are using the proprietary platform to deliver their store’s items on Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, Grubhub, and other online marketplaces directly to customers. Lula was also highlighted by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) ahead of their NACS Conference, which is known to be the largest convenience store industry gathering globally.
Merchants can sign up for Lula with just a few clicks by filling out the brief form at www.luladelivery.com.
Headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, Lula provides delivery solutions for convenience stores, pharmacies, and CPG brands that lack a secondary sales channel, offering the first multi-vendor 30-minute delivery platform to retail stores. Learn more about Lula at www.luladelivery.com.
Lula is hiring across multiple roles! We’re building an incredible team to make the convenience store industry a little more convenient. Apply here to build the future of convenience.