Tucked away at a lane in Arehalli Guddadahalli, a small village in Bengaluru Rural district is a nondescript factory of LaundryMate, one of India’s first organised technology-led online laundry services firms.
The company has built the country’s largest laundry facility, which is spread across 53,000 square feet — the size of a football field.
Inside the hangar-like building, one can hear the whooshing and humming sound of big hi-tech washing machines being operated by the newly-recruited staff of LaundryMate.
It is even offering a facility where customers can log into the company app and watch their clothes being washed live with the help of cameras fitted there.
The facility has the capacity to process nearly 45,000 clothes a day.
Abhinay Choudhari, co-founder of online grocery firm BigBasket, launched LaundryMate’s service on Saturday as his next venture aimed at solving the household laundry chore.
His target is to achieve annual gross revenue of $1 billion at LaundryMate by 2030.
The firm has launched its business-to-consumer (B2C) app and operations in Bengaluru.
It plans to roll out in 30 cities, including small towns, over the next decade.
“Our mission is to improve the quality of life of our customers,” said Choudhari, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of LaundryMate.
He added, “We are doing this by saving them time, resources and hassles in managing their daily laundry chore through a highly reliable, affordable and extremely convenient laundry service.”
In May last year, Tata Digital, a subsidiary of Tata Sons, acquired a majority stake in Supermarket Grocery Supplies (BigBasket).
It committed an investment of $219 million in the firm.
Choudhari has exited BigBasket.
For LaundryMate, Choudhari has partnered with a team of six experienced co-founders having global experience across various industries.
These include Raghavendra Joshi, chief information officer (CIO), Tripat Preet Singh, chief financial officer (CFO), Uday Vijayan, chief marketing officer (CMO), Asad Zaidi, chief procurement and projects officer (CPPO), and Pushpendra Yadav, chief operating officer (COO).
The firm has been set up with an internal funding round and with the help of family and friends.
Choudhari has plans to raise venture capital funding in the next few months.
Vijayan said there is clearly a need for a recognisable laundry services brand at a time when a lot of people have shifted to ordering pharmacy, grocery and food online.
He said the firm did a 30-city study and qualitative research.
It found that it is the wife or the lady in the house, who mainly does the laundry on a daily basis.
“LaundryMate is one more service that can largely help women at home save more time and give them space to do what they like,” said Vijayan.
The service promises a turnaround time of 24 hours compared to 2-3 days offered by mom-and-pop laundry and dry cleaning shops.
It offers services such as wash and fold, wash and iron, steam iron and dry cleaning.
The facility in Bengaluru, which follows an assembly line approach, has been equipped with machines brought from Belgium, Italy, Turkey, the US and Dubai. It has a water treatment solution from the Netherlands.
The firm is focusing on leveraging digital technology to offer frictionless ordering, tracking and delivery of laundry within 24 hours through the doorstep pick-up and delivery model.
The firm is using electric vans for last-mile delivery.
“We are not dependent on anybody for delivery, logistics or processing,” said Zaidi, adding, “The entire supply chain is controlled by us to maintain quality.”
Zaidi said the firm would charge customers one-third of the price charged by other players and mom-and-pop stores for such services.
Besides traditional players, LaundryMate also competes with other laundry services firms such as Pressto, LaundroKart and Wassup Laundry.
LaundryMate is also focusing on sustainability by saving water through recycling and zero-plastic packaging.
On average, washing machines consume around 70 litres of water per wash cycle.
Singh said if the company’s technology and processes are used, about 80,000 customers in a city would be able to save around 100 million litres of water in a year.
One can track the water saved at an individual and company level using the company app.
The opportunity is big in front of LaundryMate.
India’s overall addressable market for laundry services is expected to grow up to $15 billion by 2025, from $11.3 billion in 2019, according to a report by Redseer.
“It’s a big market and a real pain point,” said Anil Kumar, CEO at Redseer.
“However, customer habits need to change before business models can scale.
“There are a few global examples which have done well, especially in the premium to luxury category.”
According to the Redseer report, the laundry market includes B2C (household level) and B2B (hospitality and healthcare) categories.
LaundryMate is initially tapping the B2C market and has plans to cater to both segments.
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