Recently, we introduced you to Laundrybag, an on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning mobile app service that picks up and delivers your laundry at your doorstep. We sat down with the CEO, Mr. Ikenna Iloeje and he spoke to us about this startup and what he hopes to achieve.
CN: Can we get to know you?
My name is Ikenna Iloeje and I’m also the Founding Partner at Panthelope Technologies Limited, a tech firm in Lagos with some notable products like Traffic Lite Social GPS and Maps in its portfolio. As a software developer really, worked with some reputable companies in the past, from Jobberman, iThenaLogic (topupgenie.com) and Socketworks Limited.
CN: Tell us about Laundrybag?
Laundrybag is an innovative tech-driven on-demand laundry and dry cleaning mobile app service that simplifies lives by bringing our service to consumers’ doors. Users can get their laundry and dry-cleaning done simply and conveniently through our quality door-to-door pickup and delivery service by ordering our services through the Laundrybag website or app (Android, Tablet, iPhone coming soon). These orders are simply passed onto our facilities and valet teams who then pick up, clean and deliver directly to the customer. Like most successful digital services, it’s a simple business model that meets a very specific consumer need, and the reaction this service has been remarkable.
CN: How long have you been in the laundry business?
Would it be a surprise to you if I told you I’ve been in laundry for barely 6 months? It’s been a real-world experience; my team and I have had fun learning the nitty-gritty of laundry and dry cleaning. We’re not laundry cleaning experts, we’re techies and operational experts, so we partner with businesses that have been in the market for decades.
CN: Why Laundrybag? What made you go into this business?
The drive came when I realized that a good number of traditional brick and mortar businesses around our everyday life can and have somehow been revolutionized digitally in one form or another; be it supermarkets, boutiques, restaurants and even hotels; but then it became clear that one old timer still hadn’t gotten its fair share; the laundry and dry cleaning business. There is actually a massive opportunity here. So I quizzed a couple of local dry cleaners about their systems, how they operate and how they transact and track orders.
There were inconsistencies in the prices charged from highbrow dry cleaners to lowbrow next-door shops, this has provided the need for some transparency and balance in affordability without losing the same quality and experience.
CN: How has the market been?
The market so far has been more of a bittersweet experience. We’ve had excellent feedback and compliments from our users but also really had shattering complaints too. But the most difficult part has been finding the right customers. Right now, there aren’t any other startups doing the same thing, the closest one uses a subscription model. Our biggest competitor is the washing machine but we’ve got it in our sights.
CN: What has the consumer reception been like?
Like every startup out there, user acquisition is ranked high on the list of core activities. One important aspect of this is customer profiling; if you were able to get this right, your startup would probably be open for business every morning. Consumer profile mismatches do occur every now and then at Laundrybag but 80% of the time when the consumer fits our customer profile the reception is very remarkable.
In all, I would say we are doing great.
CN: What are the challenges you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge is simply re-educating customers of the new and better time efficient way to now manage their weekly laundry & dry cleaning. Much like other digital on-demand services it takes a level of time to inform new consumer habits, but once people ‘get it’ they stick with it and it changes this and simplifies the lives of our customers.
Second to this is logistics. On-demand businesses with logistics as an integral part of their operations know that it’s bloody hard! Especially with running deliveries in Lagos, there are so many factors that can hinder us from getting your delivery to you on time.
But we are purely tech-driven, this means more than 80% of our operations are handled using technology, we’ve been able to cut down on how long it takes to get to customers’ locations by using our built in map functionality. Our valets can easily locate any address as long as it on Google Maps. The system suggests the fastest route too. We are currently experimenting with more efficient ways to manage the travel salesman problem.
CN: What can be done to make your industry better?
Well, firstly I’d like the senate to pass a Laundry Industry Bill in favor of laundry businesses like Laundrybag… Lol, just kidding.
Better payment systems, a good house numbering system, and incentives/encouragement for startups are a few ways that could help.
CN: What sets your organization apart?
We’ve got an excellent way rewarding our users. We understand that life isn’t all about laundry alone; there are other essentials to everybody’s lifestyle.
We want to give our users the same awesome experience the get on Laundrybag, across other areas of their lifestyle. With Laundrybag Lifestyle, our users get to patronize partner businesses at great discounts for FREE (well for just being an awesome Laundrybag user). Lifestyle will be launched very soon, so stay tuned in.