Washbnb is a linen and laundry solution built exclusively for short-term rental hosts by short-term rental hosts.
Founded in 2020, Washbnb’s tech-enabled linen solution simplifies rental, logistics and laundry through an environmentally sustainable service.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
Washbnb automates luxury linens as a service for Airbnb hosts and other accommodations managers like boutique hotels and vacation rentals. It’s luxury linen rental, logistics and laundry included in one simple service that solves for time, quality, trust in clean and sustainability. We’re building the future of services, which is why we’ll never be a laundry company that simply extracts from our customers. Washbnb is a hospitality company that strengthens hospitality companies.
Forged in a pandemic, we built product-market fit in the worst of times and now need growth capital to expand our service to the millions of hosts who want it. We’re raising a seed round via both traditional investors and crowdfunding.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
Technology enables Washbnb and is a significant competitive advantage, just like our positioning as a hospitality company. We’re investing in things like RFID and Ozone technologies that make our business more efficient and sustainable while enabling us to collect valuable data we can leverage into insights to inform better decisions.
The business is fairly simple to understand. We ask hosts and managers to outsource their linen/laundry program to us, and in return, we ask for a cut of the revenue generated from each reservation. Hosts are usually able to pass the cost on to their guests through cleaning fees, making a true win-win-win-win for all parties involved and the environment.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- Strengths - hospitality, values, problem solving, brand, deep industry knowledge, short learning curves and amazing humans
- Weaknesses - access to growth capital, limited geographic scale and experience scaling operations
- Opportunities - rare category creation moment, leverage new revenue generating opportunities from logistics network and customer data
- Threats - instability of a travel market highly connected to global trends in social, economic and public health. Disappointing prospective customers due to lack of service area
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Washbnb is first and foremost a hospitality company. That means we solve pain points experienced by both travelers and their accommodations hosts/managers.
From the traveler or guest perspective there’s the risk associated with staying at short-term rentals offered by hosts who have little or no experience with the quality and rigors associated with bed and bath linens. Hotels have had the luxury of investing millions of dollars into research and development, turning that into game-changing innovations like the Westin Heavenly Bed. When you stay at a top hotel chain, you’re basically guaranteed an excellent bed and bath experience but that hasn’t happened yet in short-term rentals and other smaller properties like boutique hotels.
Washbnb helps alleviate that risk and pain point by providing a high-quality luxury linen rental program for hosts, advising them on how to best execute and improve guest experience, and communicating the benefits and value of Washbnb directly to guests.
Our primary customers are the hosts, housekeepers and managers responsible for providing high-quality, safe and comfortable bed and bath experiences in their properties along with all of the other operational and hospitality duties entrusted to them. We’ve identified four primary pain points in the decentralized accommodations industry and have designed the Washbnb service to solve for all of them.
- Convenience (time) - laundry is a huge time suck, but so is the process of procuring, maintaining, transporting and managing inventory of linens which are highly susceptible to damage.
- Quality - most hosts don’t have access to high-quality luxury linens, or if they do their prices are dramatically inflated due to low quantities or consumer-facing versus industry-facing sales channels. It’s also impossible to do laundry well without having the right equipment such as flatwork ironers. They’re not only very expensive but massive machines that require a warehouse space.
- Trust (in clean) - Washbnb eliminates the incentive to cheat or reuse items between guest stays by being priced by the reservation and all-inclusive. We’re able to invest in technology like Ozone as well ensuring that our linens are as sanitary as possible.
- Sustainability - most hosts are using microfiber sheets of low quality that leach plastic into the water supply whenever they’re washed and take hundreds of years to decompose. We simply don’t use plastic in our linens. We also aim to dramatically reduce the energy and water consumption footprint by expanding the use case for highly efficient laundry equipment that saves 80% versus residential machines.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
We’re limited by how quickly we can expand geographically. Unlike purely digital products, we’re after the actual physical spaces that our customers operate in, thus we need to have hyperlocal components of our business built in as well as build logistics networks capable of moving our goods and services around to meet our customers where they are.
Compare that with pretty significant web traffic this year and a lot of leads being generated from that traffic and we believe that customer acquisition is more of a function of availability as opposed to spending heavily to attract them. They already want a service like Washbnb, it’s long overdue.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
We validated the market through personal experience hosting and then pitching the service to potential customers all over the country and a few abroad as well and have yet to hear a single no. We value the total addressable market at close to $70 billion but that includes every hotel room and short-term rental property in the world.
How and when will you make money?
We’ve been making money doing this since day one. That’s a great thing about a service business is we do work and we get paid for it right away!
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
Daniel Cruz: co-founder, CEO, Airbnb Superhost for 17 consecutive quarters and a 15-plus career in marketing, sales, strategy and events. Cruz left a role in strategic marketing at GE Healthcare in February 2020 to found Washbnb and has an International MBA from EGADE in Mexico.
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Cat Simpson: co-founder, operations and design manager, Airbnb co-host has over eight years of experience working in the hospitality and short-term rental industries with a focus on customer experience, property management and housekeeping. Simpson recently earned a degree in communication design from MIAD.
Brian Mandelin: co-founder, COO and growth, experienced operations, logistics, and people director with 20-plus years management experience in the hospitality, fundraising and manufacturing industries. Mandelin has a business degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Nick Haggmark: co-founder, CTO, a technology leader with 15-plus years of experience in developing scalable systems for companies ranging from startup to enterprise. Haggmark left an engineering management role at Tesla in 2017 to join GitPrime, recently acquired by Pluralsight, and holds a computer science degree from the University of Oregon.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
D&I is core to our values at Washbnb and it simply permeates every aspect of our business formation and growth decisions. We’re firm believers in diversity but expand the definition well beyond gender and skin color, which means we need to actively pursue candidates, investors and customers outside of our normal circles and give chances to awesome people that may not have had the opportunity to prove themselves on paper yet. That’s what being inclusive is about for us, inviting people into our vision and empowering them to succeed without relying on traditional indicators clouded by privilege or access.
It’s also a driving force behind our decision to crowdfund with Wefunder. The chance to democratize the investment opportunity and make it possible for just about anyone to invest in a high-growth startup aligns closely with our community-based values and desire to create and enjoy a more equitable and sustainable world.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
Aside from launching about a month before the pandemic shut the world down and made us think we had all made the biggest mistake of our lives? Financing the startup costs and rapid expansion that our customers are asking for. This business model is new, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to traditional companies in the industry and makes almost zero sense to the venture capital community which is skeptical with anything that involves assets and people.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
Most people agree that laundry sucks. Hosting Airbnb guests overnight involves doing a ton of laundry. Imagine washing every bed and bath linen in your house three times per week. Solving laundry for Airbnb hosts enabled Washbnb to find success at the worst time to ever start a hospitality startup. Along the way we discovered that the market for services for decentralized hospitality providers was much bigger than we initially thought.
We’ve grown a lot since those scary first few months. Building in tandem with paying customers struggling through a pandemic humbled us. The experience of helping small business owners like boutique hotels and Airbnb hosts who saw their volume instantly collapse enabled us to hone our product to their needs and is built to help them weather future storms of all sizes.
When the pandemic hit we thought we had the distinction of having the world’s worst luck, but we’ve played the cards we were dealt and are better because of it. Luck has no roll at Washbnb.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
By the time summer 2022 rolls around I think we’ll be expanding to an additional five to 10 states beyond the three that we’re planning on servicing this year.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
To build something meaningful and valuable for ALL of our stakeholders in the spirit of Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospitality and it’s way too early to tell what that looks like down the road. This team is energized and driven to solve problems and create value quickly, we’re happy to see where that gets us after a few years and take it from there with an open mind.
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