By Susan Hornik
If you don't want to go to the laundromat, have Rinse come to your house and get your clothes clean!
The company picks up, cleans, and delivers customers' dry cleaning and laundry, straight to their doors. Inspired to solve massive pain points on both sides of the dry cleaning and laundry business,
Ajay Prakash, co-founder and CEO of the delivery service, Rinse, offers amazing help to Hollywood consumers. Discover Hollywood talked to him exclusively about his business.
DH: What gave you the idea to start Rinse?
In late 2012 / early 2013, I was looking to start a company with a focus on two trends: (1) bringing technology to old-school industries and (2) removing friction from existing customer experiences. I was exploring a few ideas but nothing that was super exciting. In Jan 2013, I met up with my co-founder, James Joun, for breakfast and he started talking about dry cleaning and all the bells went off.
I had known James since our freshman year in college (1999) and always thought of him as a potential co-founder. Dry cleaning was also perfect for the trends I was looking at. Most importantly, though, James brought a very unique perspective to the table having grown up in the dry cleaning world - his parents are dry cleaners, as are his aunts and uncles. It was too compelling to pass up, so we decided to run a small test with 11 of our friends where we picked up their clothes, cleaned them at James' parent's shop, and then delivered them back.
Rinse Co-Founders Ajay Prakash and James JounThey were excited to see us bring their clean clothes back and asked us when we would be returning. We hadn't thought that far ahead but knew we were striking a chord, so we decided to spend some time speaking with as many people as we could about the last time they did dry cleaning and laundry.
What we heard in those conversations is the same thing we have heard for the past eight years - dry cleaning and laundry historically have been full of many little points of friction that add up to a bad overall customer experience. We refer to the points of friction as "death by a thousand cuts" and our goal was to systematically remove those cuts, create a seamless experience from start to finish, and provide one simple solution for everything in the closet.
In addition, we are looking to work with the best cleaning partners out there and let them do what they do best - clean the clothes - while we manage everything else and improve their overall business. We started in 2013 and have been continuing to improve and scale the business ever since.
SH: With Covid challenges making people nervous to go to a laundromat, your business seems like a great solution. Can you talk about that?
Our priority is the safety and health of our staff and our customers. We have taken every precaution to ensure we operate safely from pick up to delivery, and every step in between. This includes contactless pickup and delivery for the safety of our customers and Valets.
We've seen customers turn to Rinse to keep their clothes clean and families healthy, whether they're avoiding shared laundry facilities or laundromats or just trying to save time while juggling working from home, kids in remote schooling, and keeping up with household duties.
Interestingly we've seen an uptick in businesses looking to cater to a new working from home employee base with our Rinse for Business laundry benefit, and well as real estate companies looking to provide tenants with an alternative to in-unit or shared laundry facilities with Rinse for Rentals.
SH: What are some of your favorite perks Rinse provides?
Rinse took a needs-focused, solution-agnostic approach from the beginning, which helped us create a very customer-centric service. Some of our most basic features are huge surprise and delight moments for our customers. For example, we only pick up and deliver in the evening between 8 pm and 10 pm, so we are working on your schedule and not the other way around. All of our Valets are W-2 employees who tend to like their job and working with customers, so customers get a great pickup and delivery experience. We take pictures of all dry cleaning and itemize everything we receive, so customers have full transparency. These are a few examples, and they are basic parts of the Rinse experience, but they are perks relative to what customers are used to historically.
In addition, we launched a subscription laundry product called Rinse Repeat in 2019. The product is perfect for your laundry needs, is priced by the bag (not the pound), is very price competitive and cheaper than our "pay-as-you-go" option, waives all service fees, has automatic Next-Day Delivery, and comes with Unlimited Rollover, which also features the ability to "bank" unused pounds within a bag so you get to use every pound you pay for. We have found our Rinse Repeat subscribers are very happy customers (Net Promoter Score is in the high 60's!) and we are excited to continue to make Rinse Repeat and our overall service even better going forward.
Rinse is building the first and largest national brand in clothing care. The company picks up, cleans, and delivers customers' dry cleaning and laundry, straight to their doors. Inspired to solve massive pain points on both sides of the dry cleaning and laundry business, Rinse has created a superior experience for consumers, while standardizing processes and smoothing out the demand curve for local cleaning partners. Its services include Dry Cleaning, Launder & Press, Wash & Fold, Hang Dry, and more. Rinse serves customers in seven major markets, including San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC. The company was founded by Ajay Prakash, James Joun, and Sam Cheng, and is headquartered in San Francisco. To experience Rinse for yourself, visit www.rinse.com or download the Rinse mobile app (available on iOS or Android).