Y Combinator, that mecca for hardcore hackers running on pure Paleo and possibility, has lost one of its own to the dead pool. The door-to-door laundry service Prim, which let San Francisco denizens mimic the perks of their corporate brethren by barking "DO MY LAUNDRY" for $25/bag, is no longer in business.
Prim will be closing services on Friday. Thanks to our customers for letting us wash their clothes!
— Prim (@PrimWash) January 7, 2014
People have paid other people to wash their clothes for ages. Currently there are at least five other startups trying to capitalize on the door-to-door desire, including three in San Francisco, assorted ninjas, and every other freaking laundromat on your block. The margins don't always work out.
But TechCrunch's Josh Constine, a man who shills like it's going out of style, has a different theory: "Sometimes 'the future' just isn't financially viable," he explains. Constine initially exalted Prim as a public good that puts every human being in their right place:
Prim lets you concentrate on what you love to do, what you're responsible for, or how you contribute to the universe. I'm decent at writing, terrible at laundry, and busy. Spending a ton of time washing and folding is just inefficient for me. I feel better stimulating the economy and letting someone good at laundry do their thing.
It's like the plot of Divergent. Some people were just born to do laundry. Others, like Constine, were meant to hyperloop you to the future and imbue old ideas with a sense of universal import that aggrandizes both his role in the cosmos, as well as the startup that made him feel special.
One of the somewhat perverse joys (and arguably awful indulgences) of living in San Francisco is a lifestyle subsidized by venture capital. Here, there are services that make life easier but not necessarily better, and that lose money every time they do business but exist thanks to their deep-pocketed investors.
Perhaps that money could be better spent helping people in need, and maybe so could the founders' time. But don't blame Y Combinator. The incubator didn't even knowingly fund Prim, as it pivoted to laundry from video advertising. Startups are sometimes experiments. This one failed.
For chrissakes, someone launder this man's soiled garments, he's got work to do.
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