Does anybody actually enjoy doing laundry? Be honest.
If you do, I’m going to assume you’re kind of weird or that you’re just incredibly particular. If you don’t, you’re just like Dan Daquisto, Alex Smereczniak, and Sam Salin, the founders of 2U Laundry. It’s a necessary evil.
That’s where they come in. The three acknowledge that laundry “sucks,” but without an alternative, you’re stuck doing it. They want to eliminate that.
“Laundry is a never-ending battle,” co-founder Alex said. “You start it, but before it’s over, you’re making a pile of the next few things to be washed.”
“[It] hasn’t changed,” Sam told me. “It’s like cleaning. No one likes to clean, but you do it because you have to. But if you hate it enough, you’ll call a maid. But not laundry. You have the washer and dryer, but nobody’s said, ‘Oh, I’ll come do it for you.’”
At first, I was hesitant. I don’t like the idea of strangers seeing my bedroom, much less going through my laundry. They assure me they never see the laundry – they’re just the middlemen.
2U Laundry is the Uber of dry cleaning. Customers simply schedule their pickups for any day of the week and leave the provided laundry bags by the door, 2U picks them up, takes them to a professional cleaner, and delivers them washed, dried, and folded within 24-48 hours.
It’s genius. And I’m sold.
The idea took form at Wake Forest, where students were urged to learn by doing. Dan explained it to me like this: Each group was given $40 with the objective of starting a business and being graded on the results, and after seeing the success, one group decided to continue full time in 2008. Multiple groups of students bought and sold it in the years following, and two of those students were Alex and Sam.
“I just loved the idea and thought that it could work outside of school, so I brought it down here after graduation,” Alex said. “Sam and Dan loved it, too, so we wanted to take it on full time and see if we could make it work.”
The group pitched their idea to ABC’s “Shark Tank,” on which entrepreneurs make presentations to investors. After making it through eight rounds of interviews, they were asked by producers to create a short video explaining who they were and why they wanted to be on the show.
“They asked us to do the video during finals. They gave us two days.”
I thought back to my own round of finals senior year and automatically questioned their sanity.
They didn’t make it to the final five, meaning they couldn’t pitch their ideas to the sharks, but it didn’t stop them.
“The producer told us, ‘You made it through tens of thousands of people to be in the final 10.’ And that was awesome,” said Alex.
But just because they didn’t make it on ABC doesn’t mean they won’t make it in Charlotte.
“It came to life in Charlotte because [Sam and I] both worked consulting jobs 12-14 hours a day,” said Alex. Because they worked so long, the dry cleaners were closed by the time they had a chance to consider doing their growing pile of laundry. “I literally could not drop off or pick up my dry cleaning. They were closed every time I was out of the office. And with friends, a social life, and everything, my dirty laundry just sat in a pile in my room.”
They’re not the only ones in Charlotte with this problem. Their customer base is in the 26-54 age range, and this absolutely makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense at first is that 100 percent of 2U Laundry clients have a washer and dryer in their unit or residence. But it clicks when you realize what, other than laundry, customers get when they sign up: their free time back. The guys are so sure about this that they’ve named their packages after time, with names like The Half Day and The Long Weekend.
“Most clients tend to be people that are working full time and don’t want to do more work when they get home,” Dan pointed out. “We see a lot of families, too, like people that just had their first baby and Mom and Dad are working full time. It takes the pressure off.”
So how are they reaching these customers? By creating a true luxury brand and partnering with the right local businesses throughout the city.
It took time and patience – and vetting over 20 vendors and businesses.
“We wanted it to be impeccable before we went to market,” Sam said.
Next on their list is to gain more apartment business. They’ve already partnered with Sky House, and are looking to create plans with other luxury apartments in which 2U Laundry is included in rent.
“Realtors are also considering including this into their sales package to help solidify someone’s decision,” Dan told me.
“We’re also looking at wholesale services for bigger businesses, like Ernst & Young, who already have benefit packages,” Sam said. “Traveling employees come home, unpack, throw their clothes in the wash, pack them again, and leave. They could be spending that time with family.”
“The businesses could pay for half or 75% of the service,” Alex added. “And that could be huge for us.”
Also huge will be their expansion.
“We absolutely see it going longterm throughout the Southeast. There are plenty of startups with this same model in places like San Francisco, but not so much in places like Nashville or Atlanta,” he continued. “And that’s where we’re aiming.”
The three say that this journey has been intimidating, but they’re doing it. It’s here and now, and if it doesn’t work out, they’ve learned a lot.
But they’re making it work. Dan is already working at 2U Laundry full-time, and Alex isn’t far behind him (he’ll be full-time at the end of next week).
Also making it work? The fact that your socks come back matched.
You can see their pricing options and sign up for the service on their website.