Sydney-based smart drinks dispenser start-up Refilled has announced the closure of a $1.3m seed round. Led by Melt Ventures, the new funding will enable Refilled to manufacture 100 Refiller stations in 2023/24 from its factory in Penrith NSW.
This is an important milestone in the company’s ongoing mission to “unbottle the Australian drinks industry” and save 100m single use plastic bottles from landfill by 2030.
Refillers can be installed in shared spaces such as offices, gyms, co-working spaces and universities as an alternative to selling bottled and canned drinks. Refiller stations offer chilled still and sparkling drinks on tap in 100’s of flavour combinations – with the ability to add optional ‘boosters’ such as caffeine, vitamins, and nootropics.
Early adopters include Google, UTS, University of Sydney, Aeona co-working space and The Sydney Greenhouse Tech Hub. Across these sites alone, Refilled has already saved 24,000 plastic bottles since launch in August.
Lead investor, Melt Ventures, is an impact venture capital firm that supports several successful Australian hardware startups such as Endua, MGA Thermal and Allegro, and recently announced an advanced manufacturing fund. Other investors in this round include Envato co-founders, Cyan Ta’eed and Collis Ta’eed, who both offer invaluable startup experience. As well as manufacturing 100 new units, Refilled will use the money to grow the team and continue to develop its product.
“We all know we need to reduce our impact on the planet,” said Melt Ventures founder and managing partner Trent Bagnall. “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. Melt Ventures invests in these practical companies having a massive impact on the world.”
Refilled founder Ryan Nelson was previously the co-founder of Foodbomb and has spent the last decade in various startup roles. He pivoted from software development to hardware with the launch of Refilled in recognition that challenges like plastic pollution needed physical solutions.
“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,” said Nelson. “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.
“Now we have the support needed to grow the team and seriously ramp up local manufacturing. This investment will help us install 100 Refillers in 2024, eliminate our first 1m bottles next year, and 100m bottles by 2030.”
“Sustainability alone isn’t enough to get consumers to change their behaviour,” said Envato co-founder and Refilled founder Collis Ta’eed, “Refilled’s brilliance is that it’s using a less wasteful model to give consumers a better, more affordable beverage experience. It’s a win-win.”