By Doreen Hemlock
Immigrants from Peru, the Chang family operated four laundromats in the Miami area, when son Alejandro had an idea for growth: Why not create an app to facilitate laundry pickup and delivery?
Alejandro’s dad said new tech wasn’t needed. But Alejandro saw potential not only for his family’s business but also, for other laundromats and drycleaners. He teamed up with buddy Jorge Rodriguez, and in 2017, launched HamperApp, a Miami-based venture set to move $10 million in laundry services this year.
Starting out in South Florida, HamperApp now works with laundries and dry-cleaners in dozens of cities across the US, including New York, Washington D.C., Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Denver, St. Louis, Chicago and more. The company takes an average 25 percent cut on the price of laundry services provided. It expects that cut to reach $2.5 million this year, triple the amount received in 2022, says co-founder Chang.
“We’re expanding inside the cities where we operate and to more cities,” says Chang, 32, who studied at Miami Dade College.
A pandemic boost
So far, HamperApp has been funding growth mainly on its own, with co-founders investing about $300,000 and their friends and family providing another $200,000, says Chang: “It hasn’t been easy, because some people gave us cash only for six or seven months, and we had to repay that quickly.”
The COVID-19 pandemic gave the venture a boost. Many people preferred to send out for laundry services, instead of leaving home to clean clothes at laundromats, where they might be in close proximity to others and more susceptible to catch the virus. HamperApp also raised its profile during COVID by offering free services to first responders, such as hospital nurses, says CEO Rodriguez.
Now, the company is considering a venture-capital round to expand geographically, increase staff and add features, such as customer reviews of laundry service providers and rankings based on those reviews, Chang says.
HamperApp was among 100 ventures selected for pitch competitions at the eMerge Americas tech conference in Miami Beach in April, advancing past the first round to the top 25 selected. Chang says he appreciated the chance to pitch in front of a large audience, and “we received great mentoring.”
A digital marketing boost for laundry providers
The laundry app has been succeeding, because laundromats typically have drivers for pickup and delivery services but lack a platform to market their services. HamperApp fills a marketing need. What’s more, the venture doesn’t need to hire drivers, keeping its costs low and operations simpler, adds Chang.
Frankie Fuentes, founder of Smart Laundry in Dania Beach, appreciates the market outreach. He says HamperApp has helped his commercial laundry find lots of new customers in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, from hotels to restaurants. That’s helped grow his laundry to 22 people, he says.
“HamperApp works really well for me, because it lets me focus more on the production side of the business, while the app focuses more on the marketing side,” Fuentes told RefreshMiami.
Indeed, marketing was one weakness at the Chang family’s laundromats that first inspired the app. As the app has taken off, Alejandro’s father has since had a change of heart. Now, he’s not only proud of his son. He’s also signed up the family business and revels in all the new customers HamperApp brings in.
Photo at top of post: HamperApp co-founders Jorge Rodriguez, left, and Alejandro Chang Jr.
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