FlyCleaners, a startup that picks up your laundry, cleans it, and drops it off on-demand, is announcing that it has raised about $2 million in seed funding from Zelkova Ventures and undisclosed angel investors.
There are a number of variations on the “Uber for laundry” idea already on the market, including Wash.io and Prim. As far as I know, all of them are limited geographically (FlyCleaners is only available in North Brooklyn), but I assume they all have hopes for expansion.
When I asked how FlyCleaners is different, CEO David Salama told me via email:
More than anyone else, we started with the question of what would be the ideal customer experience and then filled in the rest of the details from there. We didn’t want to provide just a satisfactory experience that happened to be a little more convenient. We aim to “wow” each customer with all elements of our service.
This lead us to focus on a handful of key features, including true on-demand service, simplicity, transparency, extended hours, and most importantly, competitive prices and superior customer service.
I tried FlyCleaners out myself, and I have to admit that the service was great — after I signed up, downloaded the iPhone app (there’s an Android version too), entered a few preferences, and ordered a pickup, someone from FlyCleaners arrived within a few minutes. My laundry was ready the next day, so I just opened the app again and said I was at home, and within minutes (again) it was dropped off. Oh, and they appeared to do a fine job with the laundry, too, though I admit that I don’t have particularly high standards on that front.
(The app itself is a little less impressive, lacking the polish of, say, Uber, but hey, it gets the job done.)
Behind the scenes, Salama said FlyCleaners is working with local dry cleaners and laundromats for the actual cleaning while hiring its own “Fly Guys” for pickup and and delivery and its own customer service agents. As for expanding into other areas, he said the immediate goals are Manhattan and more neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and the company is “considering various options as we look for the right metropolitan area to expand into next.”
By the way, discussions of on-demand service companies like this tend to bring up the question of whether (as George Packer memorably put it in the New Yorker) they’re focused on “solving all the problems of being twenty years old, with cash on hand.” In this case, I can imagine that plenty of people don’t want to spend lots of time in a laundromat, and at $4.95 for five pounds of laundry, FlyCleaners isn’t that much more expensive than the laundromats in my neighborhood. (On the other hand, if you actually have in-unit laundry, then you’re probably just being lazy.)