The laundry industry in India is booming and growing fast with startups mushrooming in every other place. Interestingly, a senior citizen is equally enthusiastic about entering the linen care business as a youth in his 20s. Full of new and enthusiastic ideas, founders of such start-ups have little to no access to all the information they need before investing their money into the business. Laundrex Times, in a series of articles, will feature more information on these types of business channels prevalent in the market today.
Speaking with some of the established and new comers in the laundry business, there are many who are clueless where to begin and many others have ventured into franchise model or retail business.
For those who are yet to begin, “ideally,” says Hari Krishnan, Owner of Butlers’ Laundry and the General Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Laundry & Dry-cleaning Association, “any start up should begin in the retail segment by taking up about 1500sqft space.” Many start-ups have opened shop in far smaller places and are presently struggling to make space to accommodate stocks, suppliers and orders. “This is happening in franchise outlets too.”
Kaushal Kumar, the founder of Ranchi-based start-up named Flying Bubbles, Jharkhand’s first laundromat which started on March 26 this year, too faced challenges setting up a new laundry. “My first exposure to knowledge on laundry was at the Laundrex India Expo and LaundrexNet. Through the Expo, we came to know about different laundry machines, laundry techniques and all the latest advanced products available in the market. We had a great experience, and it was a real confidence booster.”
Founders of such start-ups have little to no access to all the information they need before investing their money into the business. “The biggest problem my start-up is facing is the lack of information available at any single platform, about important details like the names of suppliers of chemicals and packing materials.
“I am doing my pilot project with one complete set of machines. We are using a local brand called ‘Sparkleen’ for liquid detergent, softener, bleach and prewash. This has given us very good results. For stain removal kits, we are still searching for a good nearby supplier to procure products at reasonable prices.”
With three workers on board and just a few months old, Kaushal is still finding foot in this business. But is confident in saying, “this segment still has room for many more players.”
There is a pressing need to change the mind-sets of people regarding the washing of clothes. “For example, when my company was in the R&D phase, I used to walk through laundries, learning and asking questions. Once, I happened to ask about the cost of washing a shirt; all the shopkeeper told me was, ‘you can’t afford it’. Now, you can understand the kind of mentality we have to deal with.”
Flying Bubbles deal with around 10kg per day and 4-6 kg of dry cleaning or premium laundry garments per day.
“We are aggregators,” says Karunjay Anand, Founder of Washho.
Washho has built an online marketplace and are connected with laundromats across 15 cities. “We become the interface between the customer and the service provider. Whenever a customer places an order on our platform, we assign the job work to the laundromat based on the proximity of the customer’s location.”
Once the job is assigned, the laundromat takes on the responsibility of collection, processing and delivering of the laundry.
Washho, thus, does all activities that include marketing, customer engagement, customer building, etc., to ensure there is enough business generated for the laundromats connected with them.
In order to ensure that the laundromats meet quality, “We first give a couple of job work and check their performance. Only when we are sure they can deliver quality results that we take the laundromat on board.” This way Washho can provide service in any part of the world.
In short, this marketplace enables access to the laundry service provider anywhere, with assured quality guarantee and at the same time the service provider gets a business channel partner.
Laundrex Times will continue this discussion on the different methods of doing the laundry business.