We love to see technology applied to the old economy. But some lagging sectors have proven more resilient in their antiquated ways than others. One that stood out to us for years was the laundromat. Take a look at pictures from laundromats over the last sixty years and very little has changed:
The founder of one of our other portfolio companies, Tom Currier, would rant for hours to us about how owning laundromats could become a strong play for a private equity fund. His research found that these businesses throw off tens of thousands of dollars per month without even trying. But they tended to be owned and operated by an older generation that didn’t do too much to improve the business. Since Tom was already working on Cabin, the idea was always left for cocktail hour kaffeeklatsch.
Then one day, Alex Jekowsky walked into our 1517 office. We’d known Alex for a couple years at that point because he was our office neighbor back when we were at the co-working space at 100 Broadway in San Francisco. Alex had moved on from his old company and had now teamed up with his new co-founders, Pramod Dabir and Gilli Cherrin. They all too had noticed everything Tom had ranted to us about and more. They dug into how laundromats operate; they attended coin-operated laundromat conferences; and they came to see all the ways they might be able to make the experience better for the owners and the customers. So Alex and the team pitched us Cents.
The Cents software system handles point-of-sale transactions, delivery tracking, machine logging, cash cards, laundry machine payment devices, and employee management. Brad from Tons of Bubbles says, “I used to have five systems to manage my stores. With Cents, I spend less time managing my locations physically, and more time growing it remotely.” Cents is working with a number of laundromats across the New York City area, as well as in San Francisco and Boston. We’re excited to see Alex, Pramod, and Gilli transform this old industry and bring it into the 21st-century. Laundromats are never going to look the same again!