Home Feature This Engineer Is Bringing His International Experience To Atlanta’s Startup Scene

This Engineer Is Bringing His International Experience To Atlanta’s Startup Scene

by Maija Ehlinger

Atlanta has attracted international tech talent over the years, including most recently Serge Kadjo, an industrial engineer, entrepreneur, and self-proclaimed “idea converter.” 

His ideas have taken him across four continents as he’s helped both robotics-focused ventures and CleanTech startups scale. But it was a dry cleaning startup in Atlanta that ultimately brought him to the states. 

Hypepotamus got a chance to catch up with the recent transplant, who is consulting and is currently Head of Research and Development at Presso, a fast-growing startup creating fast dry cleaning solutions for homes and the overall hospitality industry.

Kadjo’s road into the startup world began in his home country of Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa, where at an early age he fell in love with the idea of building robots. That love brought him to Morocco, where he studied and worked on carbon capturing, water security, and other renewable energy problems for startups in the city of Agadir. He would go on to further his graduate studies in France and Poland with a focus on logistics and international transport and ultimately spend some time in Canada building a startup in the payment space. 

An internship with a French startup would initially take him to China, where he worked on bringing different manufacturing products to life. 

China is ultimately the place where he would connect with the Atlanta-based entrepreneurs behind Presso. He told Hypepotamus he was drawn to the complex problem of laundering a garment in under five minutes. He lived and worked in Shenzhen during the start of the pandemic, helping Presso navigate manufacturing and technology challenges early on before relocating to Atlanta in September of 2021. 

 

Developing A Better Dry Cleaning Experience 

Kadjo is one of several new people to join Presso over the last year and a half, which is now a 20-person team working out of Atlanta Tech Village.

Nishant Jain, Presso’s CEO, described Kadjo as someone who can “literally take anything that is broken or lying around and convert it into something working…he’s coming up with new technologies [for us]. But that is really just the tip of the iceberg. We think he and the R&D team can help us bring this into people’s homes.” 

While the early stages of the manufacturing research process brought the team to China, Jain said that now all of the machines are assembled in California, where Presso has a manufacturing team and office as well. 

The problem Kadjo and the entire Presso team is solving for is complex. Not only is traditional dry cleaning time-consuming, but it also isn’t environmentally friendly. 

Following a funding raise in 2020, Presso has been building out its technology to help Hollywood better work with garments. It has also expanded to help hotels create a better customer service experience by streamlining the in-house dry cleaning process. One of the first places to test out the technology with their guests is Hotel Claremont in Atlanta, where the bespoke hotel is using the Presso machine to expand the guest experience. 

Jain told Hypepotamus that the process at hotels takes on an  “Uber Eats” model, where a guest can order a laundry service automatically from their phone. “Most hotels lose money offering dry cleaning. But with our work at Claremont, we showed that hotels can actually make money off it the service.”

Hollywood and hotels aren’t the only users the Presso team is going after. Kadjo said the research and development team is currently focused on turning their industrial machines into something that can ultimately be found in every home. 

A few months into his time here in Atlanta, Kadjo told Hypepotamus he has been impressed with the entrepreneurial energy and how the city is “one of the best places to be a Black entrepreneur.” 

You can catch Kadjo and the Presso team at Atlanta Tech Village. Or, if you want to see the machine in action, be sure to book a stay at Hotel Claremont sometime soon.  

 

 

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