How does an “Uber for laundry” business achieve success when 100 percent of their customers have washers and dryers in their homes? 2U Laundry, one of Charlotte’s most recent startup success stories, is proving that convenience really is king in the luxury home services sphere.
“It’s one of the most hated household chores in the country,” said Dan D’Aquisto, 2U Laundry’s Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer. Their marketing campaign highlights time freed up by outsourcing laundry to do other, more fun or family oriented things. A recent Instagram post shows a young dad and his son sitting in the sun, hands behind their heads in twin poses of summer relaxation and bliss. “Push the laundry aside, kick back and enjoy the start to the weekend,” the post reads.
2U Laundry began as a class project at Wake Forest University. In a business class group project each group was given $40 to bootstrap a functioning business. A group created WakeWash, a campus laundry delivery service. Alex Smereczniak, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of 2U Laundry, thought the idea worked so well he bought the company from the original group project members his sophomore year and decided to make it an actual venture. He grew the business 100% every year he was at Wake Forest.
“He really gained his entrepreneurship passion through that,” D’Aquisto said of Smereczniak. After college, Smereczniak moved to Charlotte to work at Ernst & Young. Over the year or so he worked there, the project creation stayed on his mind and he saw a few west coast companies successfully raising money doing a similar “Uber for laundry” model and knew he had a special chance to make a company hit it big in Charlotte.
He called Dan D’Aquisto – one of his closest childhood friends who just happened to also have a perfectly compatible background in sales and marketing. It took little convincing for D’Aquisto to pick up and move to Charlotte.
“I ended up quitting my job, breaking the lease on my house, driving straight to Charlotte and never looked back,” D’Aquisto said. He arrived in Charlotte in September 2015 and in December Smereczniak took the plunge and quit his job at EY to focus fulltime on their new company, 2U Laundry.
Charlotte itself has proved to be an essential starting ground and resource for the success of 2U Laundry.
“What’s cool about Charlotte is it wants to be a really strong hub for entrepreneurship and we like to think we’re helping out with that,” he said. They leverage a Board of Advisers that includes Dan Roselli, the co-founder of Packard Place, Chris Elmore, a co-founder of AvidXchange and a few other Charlotte heavyweights in the startup sphere. “We connect with as many people as we can in the startup space,” he said. “And there’s a lot more than we think.”
There are two main demographic targets for 2U Laundry. First are the working young professionals – usually 25-45 years old, living uptown or in a tangent neighborhood like South End or Plaza Midwood and likely working for one of the city’s many financial institutions. These tend to be single people living alone or with roommates, or young couples. For many, this service is included in their apartment complexes’ benefits. 2U Laundry currently partners with more than 50 luxury apartments in the city and is looking to add more, as well as looking to partner with employers to tack it on to benefits packages. The second target demographic for 2U Laundry is the busy young family, typically with a high combined income and located in affluent neighborhoods such as Dilworth and Myers Park, though they have customers as far reaching as Waxhaw, Mooresville and Lake Norman.
“If we can make it work here in Charlotte, with all people who just value their time more and they have access to washers and dryers, I think we can make it work just about anywhere,” D’Aquisto said.
“Everyone has to do laundry,” D’Aquisto said. “We have people below the poverty level who use our service to Panthers and Hornets players using our service.”
Now, the company is hitting its stride. Last Friday they closed on a round of seed money that gained them $400,000.
“It was kind of crazy we didn’t think we’d be as far along as we are this soon but I think with the right hustle and the right people we’ve put together a pretty well-oiled machine,” D’Aquisto said.
Hustle is right. D’Aquisto, Smereczniak, and their Chief Technology Officer, Caleb, their operations director, and customer experience manager all live together in a three-bedroom house in NoDa. The downstairs is their office, where D’Aquisto says they usually work from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“It’s fun,” D’Aquisto said. “It’s all a part of the story.”