They haul thousands of pounds of laundry on bikes

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Gabriel Mandujano, right, founder and CEO of Wash Cycle Laundry, with Jacob Clark, his rider who picks up and delivers laundry in Philadelphia. Gabriel has a partnership with Quick Clean Self Service Laundry, one of four around the city to service clients. ( ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER )

 GABRIEL MANDUJANO, 30, of West Philadelphia, is founder and CEO of Wash Cycle Laundry. The company operates four laundromats and a fleet of bike-trailers, offering laundry pickup, cleaning and delivery to residents, businesses and health-care institutions in Philly. Mandujano, a California native whose father hailed from Peru, is a 2005 Wharton grad with a master's degree from the London School of Economics. He started the business in 2010.

Q: How'd you come up with the idea for the biz?

A: I wanted to run a business that was greener and cheaper, and I researched laundry. Using green detergents doesn't cost much more, and bike delivery is cheaper than truck.

Q: Start-up money?

A: I needed a bike, a trailer, some promotional fliers, and found a laundromat in West Philly willing to let me work. Our first outside money was a $20,000 SBA loan in 2011, and later we got some private investment. We also got a $50,000 loan from Untours Foundation in 2012.

Q: And the biz model?

A: We started doing laundry for consumers and had two bikes on the street. We covered most of Center City and a little of University City. By the end of 2011 the commercial accounts had grown bigger, and now they represent 75 percent of revenues.

Q: What's the value proposition?

A: A lot of laundry in hospitals and hotels is washed out-of-state. We have four locations here, never more than two miles from customers. We're green and hire from Philadelphia Works and Gearing Up, two nonprofits that help people find work.

Q: How are you able to haul all this stuff on bicycles?

A: We hauled 100,000 pounds of cargo in January. We can handle 300 pounds of laundry on one bike-trailer. We're getting some pedicabs with a box on the back, which will increase our cargo capacity to 600 pounds.

Q: Your customers?

A: We do work for the federal government at facilities like the VA Hospital in West Philly. We service some private skilled-nursing homes. The University of Pennsylvania was one of our first big clients. We also do work for Temple, Drexel and Thomas Jefferson University.

Q: Cost of services?

A: For consumers, it's $1.35 per pound for washing, folding and free delivery. For commercial, it's cheaper but depends on volume and what's washed. A hotel that wants us to clean sheets and towels could be a third to half as much as the consumer rate.

Q: How big a biz is this?

A: Thirty employees, 16 or 17 full-time. We're on track to double 2013 revenue to $1 million.

Q: What's next?

A: We have about 1 percent of the 4,000 hospital beds, 3,000 nursing-home beds and 10,000 hotel rooms in Center City and University City. We'd like to have 2 or 3 percent.

 


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