Though many a conveniently-located shopping centre or train station dry cleaner is still going strong thanks to daily drop offs and pick ups by commuters, a report from Technavio has predicted the global online on-demand laundry service market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 37 percent between 2017 and 2021.
There are a number of players operating in this market in Australia, from Dropwash to Dryz, but none have quite cornered the space. Looking to be the one to do it and take on-demand laundry mainstream is New Zealand-born Laundromap.
Now active in Perth and Sydney, Laundromap is an on-demand laundry and dry cleaning service offering pick up and delivery to and from the customer’s door.
Founded by Hayden Foster, Adam Plowman, and Sam McDonald, Laundromap came out of Plowman getting tired of taking his dry cleaning in to work each day.
“He thought there must be a better way, a way to wipe the dry cleaning off the list of chores forever. After doing some research he discovered on-demand dry cleaning did exist, but there was no one in the Australia and New Zealand region doing it,” Foster explained.
“Once we knew there was a gap in the market, we jumped on the opportunity.”
A major challenge in building up the service, Foster said, was ironing out the logistics required to launch in each city.
“Given every geographic area comes with its own unique quirks and considerations, we really had to tailor our operations to work with the infrastructure already on the ground. This is obviously coupled with the challenge of growing at an ambitious rate, but one that won’t lead to a disruption in the service,” he said.
The service works through partnerships with existing dry cleaners and “laundry-cleaning experts” who work like any other laundry service, but with pick up and delivery.
Aiming to collect, clean, and deliver laundry within 48 hours, Laundromap works by having a customer place their order via the app, scheduling pick up between 7am and 10pm – so not, technically, quite ‘on-demand’. Issues with a true on-demand approach in the laundry space were felt by US offering Washio last year, which shut down and later sold its assets to former competitor Rinse, which works through a scheduling model.
A ‘Laundromap Expert’ will then bring a Laundromap bag to the customer’s house to place their items in, and then take it away for cleaning, and then delivery.
The startup has a couple of main pricing options: $5.50 per shirt for its ‘shirt service’, $6 per kilogram for its laundry service with a minimum of 6kg, and $2 per item for its dry cleaning service.
“We don’t want Laundromap to be perceived as a more expensive option, so our pricing is based upon the averages in each market. We also offer package options, which provide even better pricing for bundles of services, such as the ‘Nine to Five’, a suit and 5 shirts,” Foster explained.
Laundromap believes its product is “relevant to most Australians” given “everyone needs dry cleaning from time to time”. Its core target market however, Foster said, is made up of time-poor people, particularly professionals who wear suits everyday or those at home responsible for the laundry.
“We’ve seen a lot of interest to date. We’ve also found that once a customer has used our service a few times they become hooked,” he said.
Looking at Laundromap’s start in New Zealand, Foster said the app had been downloaded more than 15,000 times, which told the team there was market demand (though, of course, an app download doesn’t mean someone using the service).
“That meant from the get go of the Australian launch we knew we had to be ready for the rapid expansion of our service offering. In the Sydney market that meant starting off with a skeleton service in a few markets, before extending our service to other suburbs,” he said.
While acknowledging there are a number of other competitors in the market offering an app-based service – not to mention traditional dry cleaners themselves – Foster believes Laundromap has the edge on coverage and service times.
To further expand, the startup is looking to raise around $3 million; it brought on funding from firm 910 Limited, an investment business owned by All Blacks player Dan Carter and fellow footballer Ben Hurst earlier this month. The firm acquired a 10 percent stake in the startup.
Foster said, “Our goal is to become the first standardised and trusted dry cleaning brand across Australia and New Zealand operating all major cities, before looking at potential opportunities in Asia.”
Image: Hayden Foster. Source: Supplied.