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Sun 30 Oct 2016 03:40 PM

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Ex-Uber manager builds 'Not-Uber' for laundry in Dubai

SPONSORED CONTENT: Washmen offers customers a seamless mobile experience at pricing that is discounted 20-30% below premium dry clean and laundry services in the UAE

Ex-Uber manager builds 'Not-Uber' for laundry in Dubai

Washmen (www.washmen.com) is a laundry and dry cleaning application (available on iOS and Android) where customers can request pickups and drop offs within 30-minute time windows in Dubai and pay in-app using a credit card.

Prior to founding Washmen, Rami Shaar worked as Logistics & Operations Manager at Uber in the UAE, where he helped grow operations across Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Prior to his experience in Operations, Rami spent four years in investment banking and private equity.

The pain points of laundry for Rami started in his banking days, where he realised that laundry services offer unreliable deliveries that involve a lot of manual coordination, and quality that lacks transparency on clothes treatment or hygiene.

In 2014, while still a banker, Rami shared the idea with an employee that worked at Uber. Although he was initially trying to poach the employee to join him to start Washmen, the employee ended up poaching him back to join Uber.

Rami saw a great opportunity to help build Uber in the region, early on when the company was operational in less than 50 cities internationally.

After one year at Uber, the idea of Washmen re-surfaced and Rami decided to join Flat6Labs, the region’s largest accelerator program to help build his new venture. A few weeks after joining, he managed to convince a close friend to quit his job at Schlumberger in Canada to join him in Dubai and help build Washmen.

During the accelerator program, the co-founders were mentored by Magnus Olsson, co-founder at Careem, where he helped shape the business plan and presented the company’s first pitch to investors during Flat6Labs Demo Day in June 2015. Soon after the Demo Day,

Washmen managed to raise USD 400,000 in seed funding making Washmen the fastest company to get funded out of more than 80 companies that graduated from the Flat6Labs Accelerator program over the past few years.  

In October 2015, Washmen launched its operations to address inefficiencies in the laundry market in the UAE, beginning with Dubai. Washmen alleviates this pain by offering customers a seamless mobile experience at pricing that is discounted 20-30% below premium dry clean and laundry services in the UAE.

Customers choose time slots for pickups and drop offs at their own convenience, pay with a credit card, and can select delivery as early as next day. Washmen guarantees a quality laundry and dry cleaning experience by only working with the best laundry service providers in the UAE.

More recently, Washmen was the first in the region to introduce an "All You Can Wash & Fold" service, which allows customers to fill a large bag that will be washed, dried and folded for a set AED 79.

“Many people ask us if we are the Uber for laundry. Our answer is that we are not!” said Rami, currently serving as CEO for the start-up.

"Uber connects you with the closest driver in your area. Washmen does not connect you to your neighbourhood laundry. Not all our customers live close to a good laundromat."

Washmen has partnered with a few high quality laundromat facilities after rigorous vetting and interviewing. Onboarding laundromats with premium quality is essential to the Washmen experience.

Through the use of technology, Washmen is able to manage the full supply chain and ensure a quality offering.

At the heart of Washmen’s success so far is a great balance between great technology and a customer-centric culture.

The founders try to be as close to their customers as possible. Rami and Jad spent one month as drivers during their launch phase to get to know their customers personally. They reach out to new users of Washmen frequently and follow up with recurring users to keep a pulse on the service and quality.

Washmen has seen tremendous growth over the last few months, on the back of which the company has locked investment from an International VC for their Series A investment.

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