UK startup Oxwash, which has spent the last few years implementing high-tech processes to reduce environmental dry cleaning and commercial laundry costs, has raised £10 million (~$12m) in Series A funding to expand its footprint nationwide.
Currently, the service is available in five cities in the UK: London, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Manchester, but – with new funding – it aims to achieve wider domestic coverage and then looks at a US launch.
Oxwash He held a £1.4M seed in 2020 – and now Since its inception in 2017, it has raised a total of £15.7M, including last year’s crowdfunding crowdfunding (it raised £500k from around 320 Crowdcube investors). And a £2.08m seed fill.
Series A was directed by Untitled VC, with an existing backer Biz Stone (founder of Twitter) Also participating Indeed, founder Paul Forster, And Holly and Sam Branson. Other returning investors include Reckitt venture arm Access VC, Pentland Group, Ascension Ventures, Vala Capital and Truesight Ventures. New investors in the round include 8 Dimension Ventures, System Capital Management and Khimji Ramdas LLC.
Oxwash’s alternative spin on commercial laundry includes “gentle” “wet cleaning” techniques to replace dry cleaning, which use biodegradable detergents (instead of using “strong” solvents) – and reduced water consumption (claiming 4L savings per 1 kg of clothes washed).
Additionally, it uses ozone as a disinfecting agent to sterilize and sanitize fabrics at lower temperatures than traditional commercial laundry processes.
To ensure economies of scale, the on-demand laundry startup runs its services from a handful of data centers (currently three) – namely its service center “lagoons” – using cargo e-bikes and electric vehicles to pick up and drop off. Reduces carbon emissions.
In a major development, it is announcing that it has achieved B Corporation status – and claims to be the only laundry and wet cleaning company in the world to be certified for environmental, social responsibility and transparency standards, strengthening its eco credentials.
Oxwash’s customers range from both businesses and individuals looking for on-demand laundry services (think Airbnb hosts to NHS trusts). On the b2b side, he says, clients include hotels, hospitals, universities, hospitality and circular fashion outlets.
As of May 2020, Oxwash was reporting “several hundred” business customers and over 4,000 personal users. The press release doesn’t provide up-to-date figures (we’ve asked) but says it has quadrupled revenue over the past 12 months, as well as “operating profitability” across its three car washes.
The new funding will go towards UK expansion, where the startup plans to build a massive, centralized car wash facility that it will use to serve customers “up and down the country”.
It also plans to launch a US operation (although it was back in May 2020 talking about European expansion – so it restructured its global growth plans).
Other plans for the grant include investing in new methods to further develop the process, such as acoustic drying – that is, using sound waves instead of heat to dry textiles.
He mentions that robotics and computer vision can be applied to further improve the processes.
In addition, Oxwash says it has a goal to eliminate 100,000 greenhouse gas emissions from its operations over the next 12 months.
Commenting on the statement, CEO Dr. Kyle Grant said: “This new funding will be used to further invest in developing our technology and completely eliminating our proprietary laundry process. Up to 30% will be used to expand our software technology capabilities, 30% to deploy our nationwide processing facility, and the remainder for business development and growth.
“Starting a business before a global pandemic and economic crisis is no one’s best business plan, and as we all know, the needs of consumers and businesses have changed dramatically over the past two years. For us, this means focusing on building a frictionless solution for our business customers – the last thing they need to worry about is how their laundry gets cleaned.
“BeCorp’s recognition reinforces our commitment to responsible business and is proof to our customers that we do business the right way.” It is undoubtedly the strongest certification available to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and transparency that Oxwash is taking as a high growth company.
The startup currently employs more than 80 people and expects to increase its headcount by 50% next year as it pushes to expand its services nationally – moving out of its existing offices in London, Oxford and Cambridge.
Notably, Oxwash’s delivery drivers and couriers are fully employed (as opposed to on-demand delivery platforms in the so-called ‘gig economy’ model) – and all staff are paid above the National Living Wage.
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