Cleanly Looks To Clean Up With On-Demand Laundry Service

The on-demand economy gets flack for being a bubble – after massages, meal, tasks and taxis, what’s left to be Uberized? – but on-demand laundry startup Cleanly isn’t concerned.

cleanlyapp“Our feeling is that if you create a good product, then your marketing will fit in with the value you’re trying to provide,” said Tom Harari, CEO and co-founder of Cleanly, a 2015 Y-Combinator accelerator program grad that raised $2.3 million in seed funding last year and announced profitability in June.

Cleanly, which is available in New York City and rolled out to Washington, DC, on Wednesday, is a bit like the Uber of laundry – users who download the iOS app schedule to have their dirty laundry picked up, cleaned at local laundromats and dropped back off within one-hour windows – but with one big difference.

While Uber employs surge pricing if there’s higher demand for drivers in a particular area, when laundry pickup demand increases, Cleanly offers discounts by geofencing the neighborhood and sending out push notifications to get more people to send in their washing at the same time.

It’s far more efficient if Cleanly’s van drivers can pick up and deliver laundry drags from multiple people in a single location.

“Incentivizing density helps with our margins,” Harari said. “But we also segment down to the user level.”

The app collects heaps of user data, everything from which floor a user lives on to what types of clothes people are sending out to be laundered, which helps improve the service and encourage the behaviors that keep users reengaging. Although Cleanly doesn’t disclose user numbers, it claims to process thousands of laundry orders per week.

“We noticed that a lot of people were sending in dresses with leather belts attached, for example, and most dry cleaners don’t do leather, so that prompted us to find a cleaner that would allow us to offer that service,” Harari said. “Or if we know someone has sent in baby items before, we can guess they have a baby in the house, and the messaging they see is going to have to be a little different.”

Cleanly also avails itself of paid media to get more users into the app. Custom promo codes and unique URLs help attribute offline marketing efforts like outdoor ads and direct mail pieces, but paid search is the real revenue driver.

Harari spent a number of years as an SEO manager and strategist at agencies, including Omnicom Media Group and iAcquire, and he’s putting that experience to use.

He observed, for example, that buying around “how to” keyword phrases – like “How do I get red wine out of a sweater?” or “How do I get oil out of a shirt? – wasn’t leading to conversions.

And that’s because Cleanly’s audience is comprised of people looking for convenience, not a DIY solution. The app skews 60% female and counts young mothers and millennials with roommates as key target segments.

“These are the type of people who don’t even want to have to think about laundry,” Harari said.

But keywords like “laundry app,” “laundry app NYC” or “on-demand laundry” are super-expensive. Cleanly’s solution is to create landing pages for specific ZIP codes that show up for search terms like “laundry in 10024” or “laundromat in 10003” and optimize them so they show up on the first page of Google search results. In big text across the top is the message, “Goodbye Laundromats, Hello Free Time,” and links to download the app or place an order online.

“They’re what’s known in the industry as long-tail keywords, keywords that individually don’t get a lot of traffic,” Harari said. “But we aggregate a lot of the traffic coming to those pages every month.”

Beyond the core pick-up/drop-off service, Cleanly also recently rolled out rush same-day delivery and a subscription service à la Dollar Shave Club with perks like free delivery, waived cancellation fees and no delivery minimums – anything to fuel retention.

“The question is always, how do we get people to order more often, even if they only need us as a last-minute solution?” Harari said. “If someone just has one dress, they don’t have to pay a minimum. If they need something done for tomorrow, we want to provide that service. But we also want to lock in the people who want to use us consistently.”

And the more people use the service, the more convenient it gets. That’s why people use Uber and it’s what Harari is hoping for with Cleanly.

“Uber works because the experience is often better than trying to find a taxi on your own, and they’ve been able to drive the cost down as they get more riders and drivers on the road, which in turn makes it more convenient,” Harari said. “The companies that are thriving in this space are the ones that are combining quality, convenience and cost-effectiveness.”

This is the seventh installment of Home Screen, a series of profiles on mobile pubs and apps and the devs who make them (and hopefully make money on them). Read about home décor app Luxteen voting app Wishbonewedding planner platform The Knotlip-syncing app Musical.lypop culture magazine Movie Pilotnews app News Republicmusic streaming app LaMusicaP2P global shopping app Grabr, kid-friendly chat app Jet.medriving app Dashanonymous app Whisperstorytelling app Episodeweather app Poncho, online writing community Wattpad and sticker app Emogi.

 

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