UClean - Building a Chain of Neighbourhood Brick and Mortar Stores to Offer Cleaning Related Services
UClean founded by Arunabh Sinha in October 2016 is a technology based laundry and home cleaning service provider, expecting a revenue growth of INR 90-95 crore in 2017-18. We speak to the founder on how to make laundry convenient, non-cumbersome and time saving.
UClean is committed to work with entrepreneurs to co-build the brand through the franchise route. The entrepreneurs are trained, equipped and handheld in building and operating their own UClean franchise store. With some of the most credible partners on-board for a venture of this nature, UClean is striving to not just be a brand but an overall segment creator.
The main focus of UClean is to foster the DIY (Do It Yourself) culture across India by enabling the time crunched customer to avail pick-n-drop service. To make it more convenient for their customers, UClean has several options from scheduled bookings at app, website, store or call centre to anytime walk-ins at the store.
Arunabh Sinha, Founder & CEO, UClean says, “India is going through an interesting transition phase right now. Time is becoming a scarce commodity and hired help is increasingly becoming expensive, erratic and difficult to find. It is thus not surprising to see families sharing daily work load, reducing reliance on external stakeholders and gravitating towards a culture which is Do It Yourself in nature. I strongly feel concepts which are hyper local in nature with an element of DIY would flourish in the coming years.”
At present, UClean has brick and mortar units at Sushant Lok Phase 1, Gurgaon, Vasant Kunj- New Delhi, Noida Sector 29 and will soon be expanding to DLF Cyber City, Sohna Road, Hitec City- Hyderabad, Magarpatta City- Pune and Senapati Bapat Road- Pune.
UClean has secured seed funding of $1 million from Franchise India and from Mumbai based angel investor, Rajiv Jalan.
How did you manage to fund this idea?
I raised the first round of investment for this idea in November last year through Franchise India. Simultaneously, I was also in touch with another angel investor (Rajiv Jalan) through my own network who also agreed to pump in more working capital.
Tell us about this venture in detail.
At UClean, we are building a chain of neighbourhood brick and mortar stores which are designed and equipped to offer all cleaning related services from under one roof. Laundry and Ironing services, Shoe Cleaning and Leather Cleaning are offered live at the store (in front of the customer), using equipment installed at the store. Dry-Cleaning is collected at the stores and then processed at our centralised dry-cleaning facilities. We also offer highly skilled and specialised services like carpet, rugs and sofa cleaning, which are all directly offered at the customer premises. Over the next 6 to 9 months, we are looking at further diversifying our services portfolio to include several other cleaning related services. We love to incentivise and encourage our customers to come down to the store on their own and wash the clothes themselves (Do It Yourself). That said, we also offer full-fledged pick-n-drop services for the time crunched customers. Pick-n-drop services can be availed by making a booking directly at our website, dialling up the call centre number or directly calling up the store.
As far as the competition is concerned, the market currently has 2 sets of operators. The local mom-n-pop operators who typically own and operate 1 or 2 stores and offer a limited number of services (primarily laundry and dry-cleaning). With just 1 or 2 stores, such operators lack the reach and lack the ability to invest in standardization and processes. On the other hand are the technology based online aggregators, who only aggregate customer leads/demand and then get them serviced through external vendors (since they do not have a back-end of their own). Consequently, such players have no control over quality, consistency and delivery time commitments.
Our model is unique as we strongly believe in owning both the back-end and front-end. Customer demand and leads are generated directly through our website or centralised call centre facility. All these leads are then further serviced only by UClean stores. Thus we are able to keep a strict control on quality standards, consistency and committed delivery timelines.
So has the business grown so far?
Our business is pre-dominantly B2C focused right now and we are targeting households typically located within 5 kms radius of the store. The biggest target group for us is Double Income No Kids (DINK) families, nuclear families, bachelors and students. Immediate target for us are the corporates and hotels where there is a huge opportunity for volume business. All such institutions would be serviced by the nearest stores. On an average, each UClean store currently services between 30 to 40 customers everyday with an average ticket size of INR 250. The total sales that an average store now makes on a per month basis is about INR 250,000.
Any marketing strategies planned for this year?
We have managed to get celebrities Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Khemu on-board as strategic partners, who are now investing their sweat and blood in promoting the brand. In Soha and Kunal, we have the perfect couple endorsing our brand who strongly believe in the DIY culture and have extensively used cleaning service providers while living abroad. We would be carrying out extensive promotion leveraging social media over the next 6 to 12 months at a national level. These exercises would be aimed at building a brand equity at national level and inspire trust and confidence in future franchises. There would be some national level sales campaigns at the store level, several local marketing initiatives would be carried out to reach out to the customers.
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