2ULaundry brings first acquisition into “The Folde” of growing laundry brand

2ULaundry, a venture-backed Charlotte-based startup innovating the laundry and dry cleaning service experience, announced today it has made its first acquisition.

The startup acquired The Folde, a Texas-based competitor in the laundry space. 2ULaundry’s co-founder and President Alex Smereczniak told Hypepotamus that the 2ULaundry has been close to the team at The Folde, including co-founder Mark Vlaskamp, as the two businesses grew over the last several years in their respective geographies. 

Full details of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Smereczniak told Hypepotamus that the deal was in the “seven figures” and a mix of cash and equity. With the acquisition, 2ULaundry will nearly double its revenue while adding new team members, equipment, and locations. 

The acquisition news comes after 2ULaundry closed a $20 million Series B earlier this year from Atlanta-based Level 5 Capital Partners. That funding gave 2ULaundry “the capability to start to be a little bit more aggressive, to really build out the team, to open more locations…and really ramp things up,” said Smereczniak

The Folde acquisition is an investment in the future of 2ULaundry’s franchisees, Smereczniak added. 

“When we thought about the acquisition, a big driver was the fact that we have two corporate stores open to today, but some of our franchisees are signing on for 10 plus [locations]. So how do we ever truly empathize with them and understand the pain points when they have with 10 stores across different geographies and different cities?” 

The Changing Tech-Enabled World 

Hypepotamus covered 2ULaundry’s new franchise laundromat model in 2021 with LaundroLab. Following The Fold acquisition news, Smereczniak said that the franchising model is a natural evolution for a tech-enabled startup like 2ULaundry. 

“You were seeing Uber for X across the board…and then you fast forward a couple of years and [companies realized that] to protect quality and to really own the margins, they had to become more of a managed service, vertically integrated, and own the process so that the quality is protected.” 

But “managed marketplaces are hard,” Smereczniak continued. “There’s a lot of people, there’s a lot of infrastructure, it’s expensive, it doesn’t scale as well. And that’s where I think we’re about to see another wave of these tech enabled services bringing on a franchise layer so that that overhead is outsourced in a controlled way where franchisees have skin in the game.” 

Smereczniak said the acquisition is also strategic for The Folde’s team, which had built out the laundry service infrastructure but had “hit an inflection point” in terms of how to scale next. 

“Getting [Mark from The Folde] on the team is phenomenal,” Smereczniak said. “Before, it was a lot of him rolling up his sleeves in the trenches. But now he’s got an engineering team with us, a product team, a marketing team, and a distribution network through our franchises. So just getting to have him on the team is incredibly exciting and a big win for us. We added another 50 or so employees as well, [including] delivery drivers and folks in the laundromat that are helping to process the orders and maintain that level of quality. Looking into the future, I think this worked really well and it was advantageous to both parties.”


More Signs of Growth 

2ULaundry is showing signs of growth outside of just the M&A space. The startup now is servicing 7 cities across the South, with Smereczniak adding that there are 12 additional locations planned for the second half of 2023.  

And three years after COVID-related shutdowns, the startup recently re-launched its services in Atlanta. 

It is a bit of a homecoming for the team, which graduated from Techstars Atlanta in 2017.

“Coming back to Atlanta, it feels like coming back home. [Atlanta] customers were already waiting… the energy and the enthusiasm about us returning was incredibly exciting,” Smereczniak added.