Wash Cycle Laundry, whose pick-up-and-delivery bicycle-powered carts are ubiquitous in Center City Philadelphia, was the grand-prize winner last week at the first Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day in New York City.
Founder and CEO Gabriel Mandujano walked away with a $25,000 check for his rapidly expanding wash-and-dry empire.
Wash Cycle started in 2010 “in a broken down laundromat in West Philadelphia,” recalls Mandujano. Today the company employs 47 at six locations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, serving households and commercial customers such as hospitals and universities.
His winning pitch went roughly like this: “Bikes are cheaper and faster than trucks for urban deliveries, and yet can be used for commercial-scale applications — we've hauled almost three million pounds of cargo since we got started, and have even been operational on a number of snowy days when Philadelphia International Airport was closed. We've proven that we can service sophisticated and large-scale commercial customers [such as] hospitals, nursing homes and universities, and are now looking to grow in those segments here in Philadelphia and across our footprint.”
“Businesses that have a triple-bottom line — the ones that look out for people, planet and profit — used to be on the fringe a bit,” he adds. “To get this recognition from Blackstone, which is one of the savviest investors around, is another great indication that businesses that do well and do good are becoming the new mainstream.”
Mandujano plans to use the investment “to upgrade a number of aspects of our tools and technologies, from the components of the bikes we use to our proprietary web platform that's at the core of our service.”
Looking ahead, the company is gearing up for national expansion; they expect to create 60 more jobs by 2016 and another 100 the year after that.
Blackstone LaunchPad, a co-curricular campus program designed to foster entrepreneurship, launched this spring in Philadelphia at Philadelphia University and Temple University, with the University City Science Center as regional partner.
Mandujano, who serves on Philadelphia University’s sustainable design faculty, represented the school as one of 20 finalists selected nationwide.
Source: Gabriel Mandujano, Wash Cycle Laundry
Writer: Elise Vider