Everyone hates doing laundry. So did Dheeraj Balusani. This loathing led him to think of ways to change the way laundry is done in India while he was still working with Maruti Suzuki India in 2014. It was what led him and his friend Vinil Chandra Ranga to innovate.
With an idea in mind, they resigned their jobs and applied to Hyderabad-based T-Hub to develop their Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and launched WashApp in January 2016 with a pilot in the Manikonda suburb of Hyderabad and started operations in May.
WashApp is an on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning service provider in Hyderabad.
How it works:
If you want your laundry done, you can place your order for pick-up via the app or website. Based on the time slot, clothes are picked up and taken to WashAppâ€™s hub.
Once at the hub, clothes are separately tagged with coded labels and photographed for traceability. All the clothes are then sent to the washing facility where they are sorted based on colour and fabric, and washed in industrial laundry machines with superior chemicals. The clothes are then steam ironed, packed and delivered to customers during the chosen time slot.
The value that a tech-driven on-demand player such as WashApp provides, according to Dheeraj, is quality, convenience and reliability.
â€śAll clothes are washed in industrial grade washing machines and superior detergents. We use soft water which increases the quality of wash. Our laundry store timings are the same as our customersâ€™ office timings. And with busy lifestyles, people hardly find time for laundry. We operate from 8 am to 10 pm which enables customers to give their clothes based on their convenience. We have also built robust technology for our operations which enables us to reduce all the operational issues and maintain consistency in service,â€ť he says.
Revenue is generated through the charges of washing and dry-cleaning, with prices starting from Rs 60. The startup is currently generating revenue of about Rs 4.5 lakh a month, registering a 25% month-on-month growth.
A testament that there is a need for such a service is that most of WashAppâ€™s customers are working bachelors and couples.
At present, WashApp has operations in Gachibowli, Madhapur, Kondapur, KPHB, Pragathi Nagar, Nizampet and Kukatpally. It has processed more than a lakh clothes over 10,000 orders, managed by 10 on-ground staff. The company is looking to expand to Jubilee Hills, Film Nagar and Banjara Hills by the end of this year.
â€śWe have around 6,000+ customers and have also tied up with some hostels and PGs to provide subscription-based service,â€ť says Vinil.
WashApp initially started off with an aggregator model, made popular by Uber. However, it then pivoted to a hybrid model where it has joint ventures for the laundry plant where the washing is done.
The on-demand laundry service market in India is expected to grow to $76.5 billion by next year, according to Euromonitor International. Cashing in on this, several startups have forayed into this space. However, many of them following the Uber (aggregator) model have failed due to excessive costs.
â€śLaundry is very different when compared to other services in the on-demand economy. Maintaining quality is a big issue. As every laundromat operates on its own rules, there are no standards that are set to be followed which brings inefficiency into the system. As the ticket size is low and in an Uber kind of model 40% of your cost goes towards pick-up and delivery which makes it difficult to even sustain,â€ť says Vinil, adding that they have learnt a lot from the failed startups and have met some founders personally to avoid the same mistakes.
WashApp now follows a hub-and-spoke model with a smart scheduling technology recently launched to utilise the manpower optimally.
â€śWe have seen a lot of people entering the market since the last couple of years. But laundry is a huge market and everybody has their piece of the pie. We are completely online and within a year of starting we are the highest downloaded laundry app with over 9,000+ downloads in Play Store,â€ť Dheeraj says.
Having said that, WashApp is experimenting with several innovations to stay ahead of the competition.
The startup is jointly developing a moving warehouse concept in which a truck will act as a warehouse and use GIS technology to track the locations of delivery executives, which will further reduce logistics costs.
It is also looking to set up laundry kiosks or a pick-up and delivery store where people can drop off clothes and update the details in the app.
It is also foraying into the B2B segment and is in talks with IT companies, hotel chains, salons and residential colleges.
The bootstrapped startup is set on capturing 40% of the organised market in Hyderabad by the end of 2018 and then expand to other cities like Bangalore and Mumbai. Given the kind of business growth it is witnessing, it is confident of breaking even in the next four months.