Ryan Harmon has plenty of experience in software sales.
After working in sales for Austin-based tech startups Sparefoot and Lawn Starter, Harmon decided it was time to launch his own tech startup focused on laundry delivery.
“The concept came about after seeing how a lot of these dry cleaning companies were struggling to get customers,” Harmon said. “And with new companies like Instacart delivering groceries, the idea was ‘Why can’t you get dry cleaning and laundry delivered?’ ”
Harmon and his co-founder Ryan Norton founded Austin-based Press Cleaners in early 2016. The company is now in 13 cities, including Atlanta and Miami, and reports double-digit monthly growth rates since its inception.
The idea of laundry delivery certainly isn’t new, and plenty of dry cleaners offer this service.
But there are a couple of ways Press is different. They offer “wash-and-fold” laundry at $1.50 per pound, which most traditional cleaners don’t.
They also have a rating system that allows the company to monitor the quality of the service. If a cleaner drops below a high rating, they are no longer used by Press.
And Harmon says they are less expensive. “On average we are 25 percent less than dry cleaners,” he said.
WHAT THEY DO: Press Cleaners is an on-demand laundry pick-up and delivery service.
Using either their app or website, customers can ask to have their laundry picked up and cleaned, either dry-cleaned or a simple wash-and-fold.
Harmon said they actually partner with local cleaning companies to do the pickup, delivery and cleaning.
Press offers free delivery, but requires a minimum expenditure of $25, which is about two to three loads of laundry if the customer is just doing wash-and-fold. Dry cleaning prices vary depending on the type of clothing.
The company’s customers tend to be students, busy professionals, or even businesses and short-term rental owners, Harmon said.
WHO THEY ARE: Harmon and Norton are the co-founders. Norton helped start Press Cleaners after working for Uber in San Francisco, Harmon said.
Press itself has four employees at its Austin headquarters.
INVESTMENT: The company raised $500,000 in a seed round. Investors included Jonathan Coon, the co-founder of 1-800-Contacts, and the founders of Sparefoot, Chuck Gordon and Mario Feghali.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Finding high-quality cleaners. “We’ve got that down to a pretty exact science, but it’s always a challenge,” Harmon said.
Getting the word out about Press Cleaners is also a challenge, he said, though he noted that their growth is rooted in referrals. “We’ve seen a lot of virality to our platform because it is very similar to ride-sharing apps; you can refer a friend and get a $10 credit for you and $10 for a friend.”
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