Dirty laundry is good business for eziPod
By Chong Jinn Xiung August 16, 2018
- Aims to provide convenient laundry and dry-cleaning services to urbanites
- Plans to expand services to include accepting e-commerce parcel deliveries
CLEANING laundry is a dirty business that very few people would associate it with a technology startup. Yet, this did not deter Malaysian startup eziPod on its mission to disrupt the traditional laundry business.
eziPod’s co-founder and chief operations officer Venon Tian (pic) explained that eziPod primarily caters to busy urbanites who don’t have time to handle their own laundry. The business started in November 2017, when Tian along with co-founder and chief executive officer Tan Swee Yeong, who is also an angel investor, rolled out the first lockers in the Klang Valley.
Using their 24/7 smart lockers that are located in malls, condominiums and office buildings, they slowly want to carve out a piece of the market for themselves.
“Our customers tend to have a busy schedule. Driving to the laundry shop to drop off clothes, looking for parking, just doesn’t cut it and getting there in time before the shop closes just isn’t convenient,” said Tian.
Using an app on a phone, users need only go up to a smart locker, select the service they want to use and the number of clothes they are depositing before a QR code is generated. Scan the code at the scanner and an available locker will open for them to place their clothes into.
Once their laundry is cleaned, users will be notified via the eziPod app and need only scan the provided QR code at the smart locker.
Tian explained that eziPod does not plan to compete in terms of price with traditional laundry businesses. As far as pricing goes, eziPod offers laundry and ironing services starting from RM2.50 per piece. Meanwhile, dry cleaning costs RM6 per garment and ironing only costs RM2 per garment.
He admits that they cost slightly more but are cheaper than some premium laundry services. “We are all about providing premium services at a reasonable price,” he said.
While eziPod does not own a facility to clean the collected laundry themselves, Tian explained that they outsource that task to a facility in Ampang that cleans laundry from hotels. A typical turnaround time for a load of laundry is at least two working days.
He described it as a proper laundry and dry-cleaning facility with the means to cater to high volumes of laundry and says that the processes are handled professionally, using high-grade detergents.
Truth be told, Tian admitted that eziPod wasn’t his first laundry-based startup. He explained how he had previously run another startup called Laundry Hero that functioned as an on-demand laundry service akin to a concierge service. They would collect clothes from the customer’s doorstep, clean it and send it back after.
However, he soon found that the business was not sustainable and even worse, he was underpricing himself. Ultimately, that signalled to him that people were not prepared to pay for a concierge service to do their laundry.
Expanding and going beyond laundry
He said the main goal for eziPod is to expand its number of lockers, currently in 20 locations, towards residential high-rise buildings so users can easily access and collect their cleaned laundry at any time of the day.
Admittedly, he said it is easier to get the lockers into malls and office buildings but residential buildings like condominium remain tough as the concept is still new in Malaysia, whereas it has been around for some time in Thailand and Singapore.
Given that the concept has been proven in those markets, this provides Tian with a benchmark of the concept’s acceptance.
According to him, Box24, a similar laundry startup (and also the supplier of their lockers) in Thailand recorded utilisation rates of 60% across its lockers in 120 locations across Bangkok.
In Singapore, a similar solution was launched in 2016 and has since garnered a 30% utilisation rate across its 16 locations.
Closer to home, eziPod has a long way to go as it has achieved only 10% utilisation since it started in November 2017. Tian is, however, confident of increasing the uptake in locker utilisation once he is able to place his lockers in more locations around the Klang Valley. He has a goal of spreading to 100 locations by the end of 2018.
In addition, he intends to take eziPod to Penang and Johor when the time is right, after they ensure the operations in the Klang Valley are sustainable.
Tian added that he also intends to expand eziPod’s capabilities beyond laundry services to use the lockers as collection points for e-commerce parcels. He also intends to generate some revenue from advertising by offering the lockers as advertising space.