There’s a growing movement of zero-waste grocery companies in America building toward a sustainable future that will ultimately eliminate packaging waste.
Zero Grocery — the U.S.’s first online zero-waste grocery store which also happens to be Black-owned — has established this same goal to remove single-use plastics from our food system.
Aligned with their overall mission to prioritize a cleaner, healthier future, the e-commerce company announced today that they’ve successfully closed a $3 million seed round, raising their total capital to $4.7 million, a blog post reports.
Funds from this round come from a large group of investors that include, but are not limited to — Marlon Nichols of MaC Venture Capital, Arlan Hamilton, City Light, Forward Venture Capital, Gaingels, Incite, Luma Launch, and 1984, who provided the biggest check of them all.
Since Zero Grocery’s inception, founder Zuleyka Strasner has tirelessly championed the company’s sustainability message, from pitching to countless investors to building up her team.
Strasner, believing that the country needed more eco-friendly efforts to clean up the planet, honed in on building an e-commerce food brand consumers could be proud to indulge in.
“I felt inspired to do more to help protect the planet and decided to go plastic-free in 2017,” she said. “It was not an easy adjustment to make — hard enough that I realized quite quickly that the effort would prevent others from making a similar change.”
During this time, Strasner shared that she was exploring her growing interest in removing plastic from supply chains, which eventually led her to create Zero Grocery.
While sustainability and on-demand economies were on the rise back in 2018, Strasner found it difficult to find willing investors to entertain her pitch for the company.
“I was one woman with no savings, no money and lots of ideas to bring environmentalism to the masses,” she revealed.
After over 250 investor meetings, Zero Grocery finally found success from Charles Hudson — Managing Partner at Precursor Ventures.
Hudson, which along with SGH Capital and other angel investors, understood Zero’s vision and provided the initial seed-investment to get it off the ground in January 2019, a blog post shares.
Zero Grocery’s focus on both sustainability and reducing plastic has uniquely positioned it against other companies that have not yet figured out how to innovate the food industry.
“We are disrupting the grocery supply chain by sourcing products at wholesale sizes and prices,” Strasner said. “This not only allows us to avoid materials waste, but also it means we can offer great products at lower prices and keep those products in stock. These are both big wins for customers — and they’re doing good for the planet in the meantime.”
At this time, Zero Grocery is looking for ways in which it can push the sustainability space in a new direction by incorporating reduced food waste and packaging in its business model.
“We are looking at every element of the food purchasing experience, including things like supply chain and packaging, and thinking about what we can do to take a different approach that is better for the planet and that makes us and our members feel proud,” said Strasner.
While Zero Grocery’s target consumer audience includes those in the Bay Area who wish to protect the planet, the e-commerce brand is also interested in prioritizing Black communities.
“At Zero, we intentionally foster an environment where Black people are woven into the fabric of the company,” Strasner said. “The company is Black-owned and has Black people at every level, from leadership to the warehouse floor.”
She added: “Black people aren’t an afterthought or a metric here like we are in so many workplaces.”
As a Black and Trans-owned business, Zero Grocery ensures that they’re doing their part to embrace their communities and support other ventures as well, including the 15 Percent Pledge — a social campaign that amplifies Black businesses.
Most of all, the brand is proud of every founding member involved in launching the company who has helped build it up brick by brick.
“We have a diverse group of investors who want to support sustainability and we’ve hired a diverse team who is reaching for the highest heights,” Strasner revealed.
Thanks to their seed round — which is the largest amount of capital they’ve raised to date — Zero Grocery can guarantee they’re set up for success.
In terms of the future, Zero Grocery is looking to expand into more cities throughout the U.S., and partner with local businesses to provide better experiences for its customers.
For more information on Zero Grocery, visit their website.