A startup in Sydney’s Northern Beaches is raising $1 million to expand its High Street e-commerce service that bundles goods from various vendors into tidy home-deliveries.
At the time of writing, Bundlfresh has surpassed its minimum target of $400,000 to raise $788,500 through equity crowdfunding platform Equitise.
Founded in 2019, Bundlfresh is the brainchild of husband and wife team Matthew and Anna Russell, along with co-founder Daniel Palmer.
The Russells also run a local seafood business, The Prawn Pod, in the Northern Beaches, Matthew Russell tells SmartCompany.
What will the election mean to you?
Sign up to our free newsletter, including this weekend’s coverage of the election.
They were often asked whether they provided home delivery, but after looking into the idea, they found it would be too expensive and too challenging for their small business.
That was “something that needed to change”, Russell says.
“The world is headed very quickly to having digital as part of all of our repertoire of shopping these days.”
The Bundlfresh platform allows shoppers to order items from various local businesses and receive them in one delivery.
By bundling “a little bit of everything” from various High Street stores, Bundlfresh is intended to make it viable for small businesses to accept online orders, while making produce from local suppliers more accessible to consumers.
What’s in it for small retailers?
For the vendors, the service acts simply as “a proxy”, Russell says. Businesses receive individual orders and can choose to either drop products to the Bundlfresh team or have them collected for a fee.
There’s no cost to join the platform, no ongoing charges for using it, and no commission on sales, Russell explains.
Vendors themselves choose the price they sell to Bundlfresh for, meaning sometimes the platform makes a margin on sales, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Ultimately, Russell says about half the costs of running the service are covered by the customers, and half by the vendors.
“We started this mission very much with the purpose of supporting small local business — that’s where we came from.”
Tapping into retail trends
Vendors include local butchers, bakers, delis and fruit and veg stores — businesses Russell says make up about 30% of all physical retail, but are underrepresented in digital, “because there are so many barriers to entry”.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw more people adopting online shopping, including for groceries. At the same time, however, people were increasingly looking to support local businesses.
Bundlfresh was able to tick both those boxes, and saw an uptick in revenue during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.
The startup is seeing annual revenue growth of about 300%, Russell says. And things haven’t slowed down in 2022 so far.
It’s a convenience thing, the founder suggests. But it’s also a way for customers to get their favourite sourdough from two suburbs away, or the kombucha from the farmer’s market, even when they can’t get there.
“[Customers] fell in love with our unique proposition.”
A “universal” retail challenge
The team is now ramping up to grow the business, first expanding into other areas of Sydney, with a view to eventually launch in other Australian cities.
This problem it is trying to solve is universal, Russell says.
“The physical vendors on our local neighbourhood strips and our High Streets are often the beating heart and soul of the community.
“If you don’t have the local fresh-food guys there, the neighbourhoods become a little poorer for it.”
Even as the digital and e-commerce worlds advance, customers will always need a way to connect to those local suppliers. And that bodes well for Bundlfresh.
“We expect exceptional growth is in front of us,” Russell says