Startup diving into dirty laundry business

Jeremy DiMaio (left) and Samuel Anderson are launching a new laundry service in Richmond. Photo by Shane Patrick Crews.

Jeremy DiMaio (left) and Samuel Anderson are launching a new laundry service in Richmond. Photo by Shane Patrick Crews.

Two fraternity brothers have an idea they think will clean up in Richmond.

Samuel Anderson and Jeremy DiMaio are launching CyCul Laundry, a weekly laundry service that will pick up, wash, dry, fold and return a customer’s clothing within 48 hours.

They’ll roll out the service in Richmond beginning June 15 and will target students, residential customers and commercial clients.

Friends from their days in Phi Kappa Tau at Longwood University, Anderson and DiMaio are betting customers will pay for the time saved not doing laundry.

“People are way more conscious of their time,” Anderson said. “We want to eat, drink and save time.”

CyCul’s model is a service that’s common in bigger cities but is locally offered mostly as an add-on by dry cleaners. That’s where DiMaio and Anderson see their opening, and DiMaio has experience building such a company.

DeMaio has run a similar operation in Charlottesville for the last six years called Ohana Organic Laundry. And in that time, he has learned how to target and set pricing for specific groups of customers.

For students, they’ll offer prepaid semester-long contracts for weekly laundry service. For residential and commercial customers, CyCul will charge $1.20 per pound per week; they’ll offer an introductory rate of $0.80 per week for the first three months to get people to give the service a try.

On the residential side, CyCul will target busy families and property managers to potentially build CyCul’s services into rent.

On the commercial side, they’ll try to work with large employers to offer the service at a bulk price as a perk for employees.

For its initial launch in Richmond, CyCul will use Ohana’s laundry facility in Charlottesville until it secures a lease on a space here.

Anderson said they are looking at properties around town, including in Scott’s Addition, and hope to have something leased by the end of the summer. Anderson said in the next four weeks they’ll begin hiring for the planned Richmond facility that will house 12 machines running multiple shifts each day.

“For the time being, it’s really just a push, whatever needs to be done,” Anderson said. “We’ll be doing a lot of the washing and drying and deliveries.”

Anderson and DiMaio are co-owners in CyCul and said their individual talents translate well to both sides of the business.

Anderson, 31, is the front-of-the-house guy. He quit his full-time job as a project manager at a mental health agency two months ago to focus on CyCul and his other startup, Richmond Bubble Soccer.

“It was getting to a point where just a few hours a day and on the weekends wasn’t cutting it,” Anderson said. “There comes a point where you can’t have one foot in full-time employment and one in entrepreneurship.”

DiMaio, 39, is the operational guy with the experience running what is largely a logistical service business. He maintains his own equipment at Ohana and crunches the numbers down to the amount of water and detergent used by each of his 16 machines in Charlottesville. He also uses route-tracking software to find the most efficient course for deliveries and pickups.

“Sam has a lot of ambition … He’s the face man,” DiMaio said. “I’m kind of the efficiency nerd.”

If CyCul catches from here, Anderson and DeMaio said they’d eventually like to franchise the concept.

DeMaio said they’d like to have four or five locations of their own before going that route, which is likely at least two years out.

“I think it’s a beautiful franchise model,” DeMaio said. “It’s relatively low-cost. You don’t need $300,000 to open the doors. You can grow machine by machine.”

DiMaio said his experience running the Charlottesville operation has helped him learn how to prevent the usual concerns like mixing up customers’ laundry – or comingling, as they call it.

CyCul customers are given a branded draw-string bag that they leave for pickup once a week. And CyCul uses smaller machines that will hold only one customer’s clothing at a time, rather than giant commercial washers.

For clothes that need special treatment, a second bag is provided, and customers are asked to make a note of the request.

“For six years I’ve been working out the kinks,” DiMaio said. “All they need to do is fill that bag with dirty laundry.”

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