An increasing number of young people today find it difficult to manage everyday activities like cooking, cleaning, and laundry, due to hectic work schedule.
However, smartphone and internet penetration has made life easier for people. Startups have also come up with innovative solutions and are bringing technology to traditional industries. Dunzo, Bigbasket, Zomato, Laundry Anna, and many other startups are using technology to solve day-to-day issues.
Realising the demand for such services, brothers Ayush Agarwal and Ashwin Agarwal, along with Nawal Bansal started Desi Laundry in 2019.
The Siliguri-based startup is trying to provide solutions to the laundry segment by using technology. Desi laundry currently provides online laundry services across Siliguri.
Speaking to YourStory, Ayush says, they launched the startup after realising the gap in the traditional laundry services segment, where users had to visit stores or constantly make calls to get updates.
The founders, who are from Siliguri, aim to bring technological services to their city, similar to that of metro cities, and address the need for professional laundry services.
Ayush, who was doing his BCom from Kolkata’s Ashutosh Mukherjee College, got the idea to start up when he experienced issues in the laundry services. After returning home and finding similar issues in his hometown Siliguri, he discussed the idea with his brother and friend, and decided to improve the laundry services available in their city.
Currently, the Desi Laundry team consists of 10 members.
According to the co-founders, having headquarters in Siliguri allows the startup to target its large population, and have a great strategic importance as it connects four international borders - China, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. The Siliguri corridor, also known as the ‘chicken’s neck’, is also an important junction, connecting the Northeast region with the Indian mainland.
Online laundry service
According to Ayush, Desi Laundry initially began as an aggregator and worked with local laundry service providers. It would collect orders and provided pickup and delivery service, and the cleaning was done by the local laundry shops.
“For the first four months, we acted like an online aggregator, where we worked with local laundry shops. We got the demand for them and they used to provide the laundry services for the users. Through this, we wanted to gauge the customer reaction to this kind of online model. While the users were satisfied with our services, they had quality issues. We then decided to offer cleaning services as well for best customer experience,” Ayush adds.
Following this, Desi Laundry set up its own factory and started its cleaning services. According to the founders, the startup was launched with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh.
The startup currently provides services such as laundry, ironing, dry cleaning, cleaning of rugs, curtains, uniforms, weddings suits and gowns, comforters and bedding materials, among others.
According to the founders, the users can book the service through the website, WhatsApp, or via calls, and schedule a time for pickup. The clothes will be picked up and delivered within 48 hours.
“We are also trying to provide employment opportunities to women. Currently, we have 10 employees, out of which five are women,” says Ashwin.
Business and more
The startup provides both B2B and B2C services. It works with hotels, restaurants, and PGs in the B2B segment, and provides door-to-door services for B2C customers. Desi Laundry charges users Rs 79 per kg for washing and ironing services, including the pickup and delivery charges.
The founders claim Desi Laundry currently serves around 300 customers, which includes 20 B2B clients and around 280 B2C customers.
Nawal says the startup recorded around 70 orders per day before the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the pandemic has affected the demand and has reduced the order size to around 20 to 30.
Speaking about the challenges, the founders say recruiting and finding appropriate talent has been challenging for the startup, and are thus currently looking for like-minded people to join the team. They also explain that the current team members, including themselves, had to undertake training to get ideas about the online laundry market.
The startup currently competes with the local laundry stores in Siliguri as many users still believe in the traditional laundry service approach. In order to expand its brand, the startup is considering a model to work along with the local stores.
Some of the other notable players in the Indian online laundry space are PickMyLaundry, LaundryAnna, and Dhobilite, among others.
According to a report by Statista, the Indian laundry care market is anticipated to grow annually at a CAGR of 4.9 from 2020 to 2023 to reach a revenue of $4,577 million from current $3,962 million in 2020.
Speaking about immediate plans, Nawal says, the team is currently working on a mobile application, which will help users book cleaning services more easily. The app is expected to be ready within a month.
According to the founders, the startup is also looking to expand its operations to Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, and other cities in the North Bengal belt. Apart from this, the startup is also looking to establish collection stores across districts, which will allow users to drop and pick up their clothes.
In the long term, Desi Laundry aims to digitise the laundry service segment across the city by partnering with local laundry shops. This will allow stores to gain digital presence and increased orders, thereby improving the business.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)
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