Abbas Jaffery speaks to Natashe Zafar on the factors that led to the establishment of Washup.
Natashe Zafar: What prompted you to establish Washup?
Abbas Jaffery: After returning to Karachi from our honeymoon in South Africa, my wife and I discovered that our maid had gone AWOL. We only had two pieces of clean clothing left; we decided to load the washing machine (it was the first time we used it); 30 minutes later, we came back and found water everywhere. We pulled the plug, and started Googling, ‘laundry services’; we couldn’t find any. This is when the idea of Washup came to me. I realised if there was such a service, we could have outsourced our laundry. The next week, I called up Sumair Saleem (co-founder, Washup) to discuss the idea. Six months later, in September 2018, we launched the service.
NZ: How would you describe the service?
AJ: We are an on-demand, high-quality and cost-effective laundry service. We provide three services: wash & fold; wash, iron & fold, and iron & fold. Currently, we cater to people living in Bahadurabad, Clifton, DHA, KDA and PECHS.
NZ: How are your services priced, and how do they compare to other laundry services?
AJ: Our prices are lower than laundry shops but marginally higher than the average dhobi, because we use fresh water, high-quality detergents, softeners and steam irons. However, unlike other laundry services, we charge per kilo rather than by piece (this is the practice in many countries) and this makes our service cheaper compared to other laundry shops which charge per piece and tend to overcharge on items such as bed-sheets and duvets. Ultimately, we want to disrupt the laundry market by introducing kilogram-based pricing to Pakistan. This has been appreciated by our customers, especially those with children.
NZ: How has the customer response been?
AJ: So far, over 200 customers have registered with our service and we have processed more than over 1,600 orders.
NZ: Who was your target audience initially and has this changed?
AJ: Our target market initially included working men and women, as they have do not have time to chase after water tanker services, deal with maids and dhobis and want their clothes washed with care. However, as word went around about our service, housewives, high-end restaurants and salons started approaching us as well.
NZ: What edge do you have over your competitors?
AJ: Convenience. Our services benefit men and women who are time constrained and like most residents of Karachi, continue to struggle with issues relating to water, electricity and unreliable domestic staff. Laundry is one less thing that they have to think about now. Our delivery time of 72 hours is unmatched by our competitors (laundry shops that can match our quality standards either do not deliver or are extremely expensive while dhobis tend to have a seven-day turnaround time with sub-standard quality).
NZ: How do you market Washup?
AJ: In addition to Facebook and Instagram, another thing that that helped us to get the word out was an e-flyer which we shared with our friends and family over WhatsApp, and we received a lot of orders through it.
NZ: Do you have expansion plans?
AJ: As our customer base grows, we are planning to launch a hanging and a dry-cleaning service and expand into other areas within Karachi.