The future of brick and mortar was uncertain even before the pandemic.
But that uncertainty hasn’t hit one important sector: laundromats. They were deemed an essential service during the pandemic, and demographic shifts have only increased their numbers across the country.
The team behind Charlotte’s 2ULaundry recognized that while there are over 35,000 laundromats in the US, there is no clear market leader or recognizable brand.
The startup, which launched as a laundry and dry cleaning delivery service in the Southeast, knew now was the right time to jump into the laundromat business with LaundroLab, a modern laundromat franchise.
LOOKING TOWARDS A CLEAN FUTURE
Like many service-based startups, 2ULaundry’s co-founder Dan D’Aquisto told Hypepotamuss that COVID impacted the startup, particularly when it came to dry cleaning delivery. While the need for freshly-pressed business suits may have gone down, the need for outsourced laundry services for busy families remained.
“The laundry business took a pretty significant hit because there were a lot of unknowns,” said D’Aquisto. “People started working from home, kids started doing school from home. That business took about a 50% hit in the beginning, but has crawled its way back to pre-COVID levels.”
In fact, demand has grown year-over-year, despite pandemic-related shutdowns.
In late 2019, the 2ULaundry team closed a $6 million Series A round. As the pandemic hit, D’Aquisto said “We hunkered down right at a good time to preserve cash.”
That helped the team focus on launching LaundroLab.
As demographics shift, laundromats are becoming even more important in growing population areas. The new franchising model will help move the industry away from the stereotypical “Zombiemats” that people may think of and into a sleek brick and mortar experience.
LaundroLabs will help transform 2ULaundry’s business and help serve more customers looking for a streamlined laundry experience.
“We were originally working out of an existing laundromat…but we got to the point where it made sense to vertically integrate,” D’Aquisto told Hypepotamus. “We wanted to build a facility that was not only capable of handling our pick up and delivery services but also introduced a new revenue stream and a new brand to the retail laundromat space.”
For D’Aquisto, moving into franchising laundromats is a recession-proof opportunity for franchisees looking to break into the $5 billion industry.
While franchisees can be hands-off for a good bit, 2ULaundry says that there is a 35% ROI.
D’Aquisto said that it takes just about 6-8 months to open up a new location. The first few franchises will open up across Metro Atlanta, with the plan to bring on additional locations across the Southeast.
2ULaundry was founded in 2015 by D’Aquisto and Alex Smereczniak. Investors to date include Florida Funders, Morgan Creek Capital, Techstars, and Engage.