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Got milk? This startup does – and it’s delivering with a modern twist

Modern Milkman funding
Image credit: Praetura Ventures

Since the late 1800s milkmen have been making the rounds across Britain to deliver fresh dairy products to people’s homes. Now, milk deliveries have been brought into the 21st century by a startup that uses data analytics to map out milk rounds, manage shelf-life dates and track customer orders made by a smartphone app.

Founded in 2018, Modern Milkman has been working with independent suppliers and farmers to make plastic-free milk deliveries.

The Colne, Lancashire-headquartered company started out as a local milk round inspired by David Attenborough’s call to cut plastic waste in the BBC documentary Blue Planet.

It has now expanded to 16 hubs across England, with offices in Manchester, London and Lille, France.

Modern Milkman also delivers groceries such as eggs, butter, bread, fruit and vegetables. The company says its plastic-free packaging and returnable glass bottles have saved the equivalent of 114,950 wheelie bins of plastic from landfill.

Rapid delivery startups – also known as q-commerce – such as Gorillas, Zapp and Getir launched or rose to prominence during the pandemic.

They are also heavily reliant on billions of dollars in venture capital to fund growth, effectively subsidising 20-minute deliveries of ice cream, shower gel and other supermarket items.

By contrast, Modern Milkman has raised less than £10m in venture capital funding, with £2.25m coming via an investment this week from Manchester-based Praetura Ventures.

“This is no q-commerce business burning VC dollars on every transaction,” said David Foreman, managing director at Praetura Ventures via LinkedIn.

“The unit economics are remarkable and a testament to the obsessive nature of the entire team – driving down the cost of delivery whilst maintaining stringent standards of sustainability and quality.”

The company previously raised £5m in January last year from ETF Partners.

Modern Milkman embraces AI

Modern Milkman works closely with Peak AI – a fellow Praetura Ventures portfolio company– to apply automation to its delivery services, with the goal of reducing waste in the supply chain.

The milk delivery startup also uses AI to map out the most efficient delivery routes.

Simon Mellin, founder and CEO of Modern Milkman, said: “As a business proud of our Northern roots we’re thrilled to have secured the support of Praetura Ventures for the next phase of our journey.

“We’re excited by the opportunity to collaborate and learn from them and their impressive portfolio of tech businesses as we continue on our objective to achieve the scale and consumer loyalty we need to realise our vision to reset our throwaway society.”

Praetura Ventures is one of the most active investors in Northern startups. In May it launched a £20m life sciences fund and last month it received £5m from British Business Investments, part of the the UK-government-owned development bank.