UK app Laundrapp plots international expansion in 15 new countries

Ed Relf, Laundrapp CEO
Ed Relf, Laundrapp CEO
Christopher Goodfellow
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Sift Media
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Laundrapp wants to help tackle the world’s laundry pile. The 80-person startup has built a platform to service a UK-wide network that includes tens of thousands of active users.

Launched in 2014 and having raised over £10m in funding it’s not trying to simultaneously launch in 15 countries across the world this year. We caught up with Ed Relf, Laundrapp’s co-founder and former CCO of Mind Candy, to talk about the launch.

How long did it take to prepare for the international launch?

We’ve been working on this for more than a year.

When we developed Laundrapp we knew that at some point we’d want to launch this platform internationally. However, it’s through the existing platform that we’ve been able to scale to over one hundred towns and cities across the UK in an extremely short space of time.

So far, we’ve focussed on the UK market however we believe it’s the right time to launch this platform internationally. 

Did you take on any additional external investment to facilitate the launch?

No. The beauty of this being a platform business is that our technology stack is infinitely scalable across multiple markets without the requirement of additional overhead to the business. It’s how we’ve scaled Laundrapp so quickly across the UK and now we’re excited to finally unveil this to the world! 

What local infrastructure is needed in each region? 

Everything is hosted centrally, so there are no technology or systems requirements at a local level.

In terms of other infrastructure, obviously our partners need vehicles and laundry facilities (or partnerships) and that’s it. We provide all of the technology, the app, the site, the driver app technology, routing systems, supplier management systems etc. It’s effectively a black box for running and operating an entire on-demand business, and one that we’ve had the advantage of both building and operating ourselves across the UK. Therefore, it’s perfectly suited to the needs of our partners and will scale from day one. 

How did you manage to find, vet and win over a key partner in each region?

Fortunately, we’ve been overwhelmed with requests to work with Laundrapp from across the world ranging from entrepreneurs through to multi-billion-pound companies struggling to digitise. They all know digital is the future of laundry and are desperate to move at pace!

Doing due diligence on international partners is no different from the process we follow with switching on new locations across the UK. First we assess the potential in the market then we assess the partner’s ability to execute on the opportunity. If both look good then we do business and scale aggressively. 

Why are you only working with one partner per country?

For a number of reasons, primarily because we work in a joint venture to build the market. Not only do we provide the technology, but we also provide the support and consultancy based on our experience of scaling the Laundrapp business across the UK. We don’t want partners to compete in a single market, we’d prefer to select the best partner in every region then ensure they become the dominant player in as short a time as possible.

As much as the technology is vital to scaling our platform, our experience and insights are equally important and we’re happy to share this with our joint venture partners to ensure they become the dominant player in each market. 

Did you make any key hires or structural changes for the launch?

None. The business was built from the start as a platform company and, apart from the usual hiring needed for general scaling of the business, there’s been no specific hires or structural changes for our platform as it’s what we had built from the beginning. 

How difficult is it to add features to meet the demands of each partnership?

They’ll always be challenges, if this were easy everyone would be doing it, but these are far outweighed by the opportunity. All of our partners believe in a digital laundry future and as long as we all believe in this then no problems are insurmountable. Some of our biggest innovations with Laundrapp have come from suggestions from our partners. The beauty of a single unified platform is that when these updates are added, they are then rolled out to our global user base. 

How do you deal with partners and branding?

For now, the Laundrapp platform is under white label and we’ll be unveiling these brands over the coming months ahead. However, we do retain the opportunity to re-brand back to Laundrapp should we wish. For today, however, it makes very little difference. The main focus is global growth and ensuring our technology underpins the entire global laundry and dry cleaning industry for the future. And I’m pleased to say we’re off to a great start!

We have an audacious goal of taking ‘War to the Washing Machine’ and completely changing consumer habit around doing the laundry. Part of delivering this is ensuring our technology gets onto the smartphones and into the homes of as many potential customers across the world as possible. There’s a lot of laundry out there!

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