Seeing the "Closed" sign on the door of the dry cleaners when there's an essential piece of your clothing locked inside is a sinking feeling. But Evan Gray's new service, Laundrie, is designed to avoid such wardrobe crises.
Laundrie is an on-demand app and website for dry cleaning and laundry. Customers select a time that suits them for collection and the company’s “laundry fairies” pick up from homes and offices up to 10pm.
Collection is usually within two hours of the request being received and prices are on a par with high street dry cleaners and launderettes. For example suits cost €14.50 while laundry is charged at €2.50 a kilo. The service can be booked via the app (available in the App and Google Play Stores) or online.
Laundrie was launched in September 2015 and now employs nine people. The investment to date has been around €200,000 and was privately funded. The company, which is an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up, started turning a small profit after 11 months in operation. "We're still finessing the product and investing in development so the profit margin is small, but that will improve when we have everything set up to our satisfaction," Evan Gray says.
Gray studied business and law at university and then spent four years with Dell computers working in finance. However he always wanted to set up his own business. “I was constantly busy and working late and could never make it to the high street dry cleaners on time,” he says. “I knew I wasn’t alone in this and decided there must be a better way to do laundry. I felt there was an opportunity in the market for a convenient service for busy professionals like myself and that’s how Laundrie came about. There is no other app that will collect on demand and deliver at the exact time you want. The other real difference with Laundrie is our superior execution. We launder to the best standard, at the best price and drop back your laundry within 36 hours.”
Laundrie has a mix of regular and once-off customers and currently serves areas along Dublin’s M50 corridor from Blanchardstown in the North to Shankhill in the South. “We need to base ourselves in cities with a big enough population to give us scale,” Gray says. “We’re not confining ourselves to Ireland as we know there is a market in many other cities in Europe and we’re actively researching this at the moment. At home we are adding drivers at roughly one a month and as we grow there will be additional jobs in our office. That said we will be keeping the operation as lean as possible.”
Laundrie outsources the laundering and dry cleaning and makes its money from the margin between what it buys and sells the service for. “Dry cleaning and laundering demand expertise we don’t have and anyway it’s not our strength,” Gray says. “There is also quite a lot of variation between those who do cleaning well and those who don’t and I set out to find the very best service providers for Laundrie.”
Gray says the company has been very pro-active with its marketing effort. “From day one we’ve prioritised marketing and have gone for an integrated approach that included everything from radio to face-to-face promotional activity, to on-street promotions to digital marketing and tailored social media,” he says.
The company's effort did not go unnoticed by multinational consumer products company Unilever, which was attracted by the company's cheeky advertising. "They were very interested in what we were doing and we met them for a chat," he says. "They are now supplying us with detergent products in return for giving them market insights and (anonymous) customer feedback."