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If it makes you feel better: pretend you and your wife are immigrants to the United States, speak little English, are raising three children, and work long hours at a laundromat. The Internet, which you're pretty sure one of your kids has on that phone with the white earbuds, calls and tells you that it can offer you $3,000 of business. A month. For the forseeable future. No catch: they just want to pay you money to do that thing that you customarily take money to do.

So, hypothetical you, how frivolous would you rate this company, when it has just told you that you can probably now afford to send your eldest daughter to any school that will take her?

Except the overall effect of this startup will be the opposite of what you just describe. Prim isn’t creating more dirty laundry, it’s consolidating the laundry jobs into batches that will be performed by fewer businesses than would otherwise overall.

If you happen to own one of the laundromats that Prim doesn’t want to use you will see a reduction in your business. There is a saving grace for that situation however, you could apply for a job at Prim.

I think they're probably competing with non-consumption rather than with their suppliers. Note the market segmentation and markedly higher prices, for example. (I have some accidental knowledge on this due to previous HN threads attempting to value laundry services as a perk from Big Daddy G, so I happen to know that weekly laundry pickup costs about $800 a year in SV, which is a sizable discount relative to this.)

To put it another way: they don't have to create more dirty laundry, they just have to successfully sell people on "You've always thought that poor people use the laundromat, middle class people use their own washer, and rich people have hired servants, but guess what, people just like you can actually outsource laundry without any of the squicky associations you have with hiring domestic help. It's as easy and natural as ordering a pizza."

I've "outsourced" most laundry since I was in college.

The problem these guys are going to have is that the quality of third party wholesale laundry is poor, always. Generally, what I see happening is that you have a mom & pop cleaner business who operates for years doing their own stuff. Then they grow / have equipment troubles / retire and bring their kids into the business / etc and move to either a centralized laundry plant model or outsource some or all of the cleaning.

Once that happens, your shirts get lost, buttons get crushed, etc.

So you have a premium service dependent on third parties for service delivery -- who usually suck. Hopefully they'll find a solution to those issues.

Yes I agree with patio11 here. What they're essentially doing is "growing the market" for commercial laundry. In theory 80%+ of the laundry they're processing would otherwise be done inside the home. If they hurt anyone via disruption it's the kid at Sears selling washing machines and dryers.

Presumably they'll choose the companies who can/do service them best. I work for a contract manufacturing company and the same thing holds true for us as a $6b corporation with a presence in 25 countries. Customers pick the partner who provides the right mix of cost, quality, communications, timeliness, location and alignment. Depending on the customer's own business goals and performance, the list of eligible partners ebbs & flows over time. Generally speaking, though, the cream always rises to the top.

So inventing scenarios so we can feel better is the solution? These middlemen businesses make their money by controlling the sales channels and giving as little as possible to the actual producers. It's basically cultural imperialism.

My father is the facilities manager for a huge industrial laundry facility (tons a day). I was trying to figure out how you'd keep everybody's clothes separate as they went through those gigantic tunnel washers and other equipment.

I never even though to just outsource to existing laundromats / dry cleaners. Ha!

This is the "minimum" of "minimum viable product." A lot of startups like this are started/validated by the founders and their friends doing the equivalent of picking up peoples' laundry, driving it to the laundromat in their hatchbacks, tweeting about the service while the clothes spin, returning the clothes with a smile, and hoping the customers tell their friends!

Indeed. In this case though, I think the small, nimble approach is the only one. The mega-laundry that I was talking about has no capacity to track articles through the process, and is built to handle a set grouping of article types (each with a specific type of automated folding machine, press, etc). It'd break down miserably trying to handle N types of garments from N different people...

You forget to pretend we add a middlemen into a business where it is completely unnecessary. Now pretend that this middlemen will take a big cut, can drop you anytime they like since I guess there will be little or less strings attached/contract, or close their business because the founding hipster has another 'brilliant' idea of disrupting something that does not need to be disrupted.

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