My big idea: Modern Milkman

Simon Mellin has raised £50m for his eco-friendly doorstep delivery service
BizAge Interview Team
Simon Mellin, founder of Modern Milkman

Hi Simon! What's your elevator pitch?

Modern Milkman was created after a group of friends, and I watched David Attenborough’s Blue Planet. I was so shocked by the amount of plastic found in our oceans that I made a pledge to drive the battle against plastic waste. I, myself, come from a farming background and I already had a passion for both supporting British dairy farmers and reducing our environmental impact, so launching a 21st century answer to the traditional milkround made complete sense.

We originally started as a local milk round with a mission to make return and reuse the norm, through plastic-free return and reuse packaging. Today we work with a growing number of eco-conscious milkmen and women, as well as a network of independent suppliers, to offer a range of fresh, seasonal produce and household goods to doorsteps nationwide.

All of our products are delivered in returnable glass bottles, recyclable containers and home-compostable packaging – whilst our ‘Milkies’ collect empties to be refilled and reused again and again, helping to prevent over 67 million plastic bottles from polluting our planet, and counting!

Why does the market need it?

At the top of our customer’s agenda is convenience, as well as utilising a service that offers plastic-free products for everyday items. Modern Milkman's doorstep delivery approach works perfectly for today’s busy lifestyles, and thanks to our easy-to-use app, we’re able to closely regulate our supply chain to meet consumer demand whilst also helping to reduce waste. As a business, the problem we’re here to solve is waste. Our planet is drowning in plastics, and we are committed to reducing the amount of plastic waste.

We regularly receive positive feedback from customers about Modern Milkman’s diverse choice of products, as well as the flexibility of our offering. Customers can add to their order up to 8pm the night before a scheduled delivery, guaranteeing that they have everything they need when they wake up the next day. Our brand ethos very much supports the ‘little and often’ shopping mentality. This approach helps to minimise food waste by offering a flexible service that meets individual needs and requirements, as well as avoiding impulse buying, which is so common when visiting a supermarket.

Where is the business today?

Modern Milkman continues to go from strength to strength, experiencing growth of over 500% on average each year since our launch in 2018.

Today we’re proud to work with a network of independent suppliers, including seven dairies across the country, all providing fresh produce with no single use plastics. Through our 16 regional hubs, we currently have the potential to serve one third of households nationwide via our local milkrounds.

Modern Milkman has also been awarded a number of accolades which we’re incredibly proud of, including ‘Gold Standard Plastic Free Business Champion’ by Surfers Against Sewage, fourth-place winner for the Startups 100 index 2023 and, most recently, a Certified B-Corp.

After closing our series C funding series in 2022, we have raised an incredible £50million in total funding to date. Recognising the vital role of data and digital technology in driving sustainability solutions, we will be using this funding to increase research and development into new product innovation and pioneering technologies.

In 2023, Modern Milkman has set a resolution to prevent a further 30 million plastic bottles from polluting our planet. Via our easy-to-use app we’re helping customers to shop little and often, and we empower users by showing them how many plastic bottles they have prevented from polluting our planet on their user profile – so they can see, not only how they are helping us reach this goal, but also how they’re helping the planet.

How did you research the niche?

It all comes down to convenience. Modern Milkman's doorstep delivery approach works not only for consumers, but also as a business, thanks to our technology. We use AI to help ensure that our regional hubs have the stock to meet consumer demand, whilst also helping to reduce waste in the supply chain.

Our mission is to transform consumer habits, wipe out waste and make sustainable shopping convenient through plastic-free return and reuse packaging. We’re a purpose driven business helping to reduce waste, and we are committed to driving change.

What's your biggest strength?

Working only with a network of independent suppliers, the company policy is strictly no single-use plastic!

At the top of our customer’s agenda is convenience, as well as utilising a service that offers plastic-free products to everyday items. We can see that there is a real desire to reduce plastics use across households nationwide, as we all look for ways that we can help our planet.

Our offering gives customers the opportunity to arrange deliveries of fresh, seasonal food and drink products straight to their doorsteps in returnable glass bottles, recyclable containers, and home-compostable packaging, meaning it’s convenient but also giving them the opportunity to help to do their part in protecting a greener future.

What is the secret to making the business work?

Our sustainability principles are at our heart, and we take pride in being a business that uses its platform for good, and this is something our customers value.

As a business, we also react quickly to changing environments. The rise in cost-of-living, for example is a challenge affecting both businesses and consumers. We strongly believe in supporting our independent suppliers during this period, including British dairies. We work in partnership with our suppliers to pay them fairly for their produce and our short supply chain means that the money goes directly to them - not to the middlemen.

What funding do you have? Is it enough?

In November of last year, we raised a total of £50 million in funding after closing our Series C investment round.

The round was led by existing investors Insight Partners and ETF Partners, new top-tier investors Praetura Ventures and Avery Dennison, as well as several angel investors.

We are using the funding to increase research and development into new product innovation, pioneering technologies and achieving UK-firsts - all whilst supporting our global expansion strategies.

What were you doing before?

My background has always been in farming. My grandad was a farmer and my father a butcher. I have been in the industry for years and know the ins and outs of the agricultural lifestyle, and incredibly passionate about helping to support the industry.

What is the future vision?

I’m excited to further strengthen Modern Milkman’s position in the market. We have plans to utilise both existing and new investment opportunities in order to pioneer data and digital technologies to drive sustainability solutions across the grocery sector. In fact, in 2023 we have set a resolution to prevent a further 30 million plastic bottles.

Whilst I have global ambitions for the brand, Modern Milkman continues to grow rapidly here in the UK. We’ve recently expanded our portfolio of regional hubs to reach over 200,000 more households within the South and West of England, continuing our mission to help make ethical shopping more convenient for everyone.

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
February 16, 2023
Written by
February 16, 2023