CHRISTOPHER CAPORALE, 21, of Havertown, is a St. Joseph's University junior and founder of Waterless Works, a water-free mobile car-wash business. The new, five-person startup allows customers to schedule a car wash at a time/place that's convenient. It says each of its car washes saves 38 gallons of water, and for every car wash completed five gallons of clean water is donated to WaterisLife, a charity that provides clean drinking water to families in Ghana, Kenya and India.
Q: How'd you come up with the idea?
A: I'd go to the auto show every year with my Dad, and there was a guy there selling solution to wash cars and you didn't need water. We bought some and found it worked well. I thought, I wish someone would come to my house or business and do this.
Q: Startup money?
A: I'm mostly bootstrapping it. I also got $30,000 from my grandfather.
Q: A waterless wash?
A: We use a solution specially made for us in California. It has an emulsifying agent that loosens dirt particles when you spray the surface. That allows us to wipe the car down and it leaves a sealant and wax on the paint.
Q: What's a wash cost?
A: We go to corporate campuses and those start at $19.99 while residential visits start at $34.99.
Q: Your customers?
A: We're targeting corporations first, then residential. Paychex [Inc.] in [Norristown] is our first big customer. We work with their HR people and they offer employees an on-site car wash but the employees pay for it.
Q: The value prop?
A: To be the Uber of car wash. We're in beta test mode with a mobile app and demand will be much higher once we have that. The app will allow us to drop the price and expand nationally.
Q: Any competitors?
A: We have one competitor locally, MetroWash, and we actually watched them come out to my house. They took an hour to wash the car. We wash a sedan in about 20 minutes.
Q: Biggest challenge?
A: Managing my team and schedule. I'm in college but most of my classes are at night. I also work with a real-estate brokerage in Philly. The other challenge is to find great employees. We pay $9 an hour + tips which is why we want to move to an independent contractor model.
Q: What's next?
A: Start local, do the app and then franchise our vehicles out. Our drivers would be independent contractors who lease vehicles and be given a geographic territory. Whatever they make, they keep 60 percent and we get the rest plus we eventually want to own physical locations. In the near term, we're looking to work with four more companies and be at the Jersey Shore next summer.
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