Sydney-based smart-drinks dispenser startup Refilled has closed out a $1.3m seed round as the company steps up its mission of saving 100 million single-use plastic bottles from landfill.
The seed round, which was led by Melt Ventures, will be used by Refilled to manufacture 100 Refiller stations by the end of this financial year from its factory in Penrith as well as further product development.
The seed round also drew as new investors the co-founders of creative assets platform Envato, Cyan Ta'eed and Collis Ta'eed, who Refilled says deliver ‘invaluable startup experience’.
Refilled plans to roll out its Refiller stations, which offer chilled and sparkling drinks on tap in multiple flavour combinations, in shared spaces such as offices, gyms, co-working spaces and universities as an alternative to selling bottled and canned drinks.
Refilled is already located at Google’s Sydney office, the University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney, the Aeona co-working space and The Sydney Greenhouse Tech Hub.
The startup estimates that across these sites alone it has prevented the use of 24,000 plastic bottles since launching in August.
Refilled was founded by Ryan Nelson, a co-founder of Foodbomb which recently merged with hospitality technology platform Ordermentum.
“Walk for five minutes in any Australian city and you will always find a way to buy a bottled drink, but not always a way to recycle it,” Nelson says.
“The best way to reduce waste is to not make it in the first place. We want to unbottle the Australian beverage industry so that drinking options better reflect consumer behaviour and their expectations on plastic pollution.”
Nelson says the seed round has given Refilled the support needed to grow its team and ‘seriously ramp up local manufacturing’.
“This investment will help us install 100 Refillers in 2024, eliminate our first one million bottles next year, and 100 million bottles by 2030.”
Melt Ventures, an impact venture capital firm, says its investment in Refilled aligns with its strategy of supporting ‘practical companies having a massive impact on the world’.
"We all know we need to reduce our impact on the planet,” Melt Ventures founder and managing partner Trent Bagnall says.
“We also know changing consumer's habits is hard without practical solutions that are easily adopted. Producing plastic bottles for water and beverages just doesn't make sense.
“Refilled's approach will save millions of plastic bottles from entering landfill and the environment while providing consumers with an enhanced and personalised experience.”
Refilled’s novel approach to the drinks market also provides consumers with the option of adding boosters such as such as caffeine, vitamins, and nootropics to their drinks from the Refiller stations.
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