Taking A Peer-To-Peer Approach To College Laundry
College students may find it challenging to do laundry between attending classes, studying for exams and working at their jobs. Washing, folding, and drying clothes takes precious time that today’s students might not have with all of their day-to-day responsibilities. The Laundry Chute aims to provide this market with a peer-to-peer (P2P) solution to their laundry needs.
The company started doing laundry the old-fashioned way – “with a truck heading to an offsite facility,” CEO and Co-founder James Janis told PYMNTS in an interview. But they soon learned that to be profitable at scale, they would have to change their business model. They founded an ecosystem of students in its backyard who were willing to work on campus, on-demand in an “Uber-like model,” Janis said. They also found existing infrastructure in the form of laundry machines on college campuses. Today, The Laundry Chute puts the two resources together to create a P2P service that provides college students with clean laundry.
The Business Model
To begin using the service, college students download the company’s app. They create an account and receive a code that opens a locker with a new Laundry Chute bag. Then, they scan a quick-response (QR) code to associate the bag with their account and put their laundry inside. They get another code to enter into the locker bank and drop off their laundry. (The service is anonymous, so students won’t know which of their classmates are washing their laundry.) A network of the company’s student laundry processors then receives a notification of the drop-off along with instructions that the customer provides through the app.
Student processors then wash, dry and fold the laundry – and their student customers stay in the loop every step of the way. Students can have their laundry back in as quickly as three hours in some cases.
The company doesn’t weigh the laundry; Janis equates the bag to the flat-rate boxes one gets at the post office. To pay for the laundry service, consumers can use a credit card, debit card or their student cards with pre-loaded funds. Additionally, parents can log into a portal where they can enter their child’s university email and load credits onto their accounts.
Students who want to work as laundry processors can schedule a brief in-person training to learn the proper folding procedures. They can then pick up their first bag. After completing their third bag, they can accept multiple packs at once. Customers can rate the processor’s quality of work, and the processor can evaluate the customer (or even refuse a bag if needed). If a student is particularly enterprising, the company elevates him or her to super processor status (kind of like an Airbnb super host).
The Laundry Chute integrates with Stripe, so processors get paid through automatic ACH. From the university’s perspective, the company creates an ecosystem of jobs. When it comes to timing, Janis noted that the P2P infrastructure is a hot trend right now. He added that generation Z expects “instant gratification in services available to them” – as they should in this day and age of technology.
The company’s collegiate service launched at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. According to a recent announcement, “the peer-to-peer laundry service will launch at local Pittsburgh colleges and beyond.”
The Laundry Chute has also teamed up with other players in the consumer products and college laundry space. It is partnering with Church & Dwight Co., Inc, which owns Arm & Hammer and OxiClean products, as well as with collegiate laundry solution provider CSC ServiceWorks, Inc. The service will exclusively use Arm & Hammer and OxiClean products, which are “known for their reliability and efficacy in helping households find environmentally friendly and economical solutions to a variety of laundry and cleaning needs,” per an announcement.
With the help of partnerships and networks, digital innovators are connecting students who need to do their laundry with their peers who can help with this time-consuming task.
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