Merchant Innovation

Laundry Service Cleanly Raises $2.3 Million

YC-backed and New York based Cleanly, which streamlines laundry delivery using a smartphone app, announced the close of a $2.3 million seed round, TechCrunch reports. Investors include Ludlow Ventures, Initialized Capital, Paul Buchheit, Semil Shah from Haystack, Joe Montana, 500 Startups, Funders Club, Soma Capital, Altair Capital and Chloe Sladden from #Angels.

Currently operating exclusively in parts of New York after launching in February of this year, the app lets New Yorkers order laundry or dry cleaning pick-up and drop-off within 30 minutes from the time they make the order. In other words, the app does for laundry what Uber does for cars: getting clothes to and from the closest laundry service as quickly as possible.

There is a cost. Cleanly charges a flat $1.50/pound for regular laundry and prices out dry cleaning on a per-item basis, slightly higher than the prices you see at most NY cleaners.

The company has seen a 25 percent weekly growth. To stand out from the other pre-existing and smartphone driven laundry services such as FlyCleaners or Washio, Cleanly had to be more efficient: time and distance is automatically tracked by the app while Cleanly drivers go around the city. But other details, like whether or not there’s a doorman, or if there is an elevator, is entered manually by the driver. The app also stores a full breakdown of the customer’s bill and history of past laundry transactions.

Gradually, the app stores precious data on the area it serves, making the delivery effortless for everyone. A back-end version of the app lets drivers see where and when people are free to expect pick-ups and deliveries. Cleanly drivers work in shifts at an hourly rate and are also offered bonuses based on the number of runs workers make per hour. This built-in flexible time management approach is similar to one used by Ron Johnson, former executive at Apple and former CEO at J.C. Penney, who recently launched “Enjoy,” a personal platform commerce which dispatches “experts” to hand-deliver selective high tech products. Each expert has the freedom to work when and from wherever he or she wants.

Mobile distribution is growing fast nationwide. Washington, D.C., residents, for instance, can (theoretically) enjoy a Bud Light from the comfort of their own homes with just the push of a button on their smartphones. And Starbucks is testing coffee delivery in Seattle and New York City this year with two very different pilot programs. As mobile penetration continues to grow and diversify, interesting new examples are surely to rise.

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