Real Startup That Mails You Quarters for Laundry Isn't Seeking Funding
Young male founders must all be drinking the same Soylent. Either that or they have a hard time multitasking because these bros can't seem to disrupt anything besides doing your laundry. The latest entrant is Washboard, a subscription service for quarters. The $20 (of quarters) monthly plan will cost you $26.99.
Cofounder Caleb Brown, 27, told Valleywag that he was up until 6AM last night finishing up the site. "It is a legit business," he said. "We do have customers. A few. Very few. Less than 10."
Brown seemed to have a sense of humor about the incredulity with which his idea has been received. "I'll admit, it's a little bit of a negative critique for the most part on Twitter, which is good. I think it's good. I think it's a polarizing thing."
Washboard came about because Brown, a Pittsburgh-based software developer, and his cofounder Shaun Chapman, a designer based in Mountain View, occasionally share ideas that they've jotted down. "It was funny, he and I both independently wrote down 'quarter delivery.' Just a thing that we've had in all of the cities we've lived in." Chapman has a day job as a user interface engineer for Quartzy (no relation) and Brown has "a couple more businesses that are a little more serious seeming. I have a loose leaf tea company."
And what of their competitors in the high-stakes market of products that come between you and a washing machine? "We wanted to do our own laundry. I think laundry services, you know, they're nice, but they're expensive and they don't get a quick turn around always," said Brown.
Had he noticed that 20- and 30-something-year-old entrepreneurs had a particular myopia with this sector? "I guess you're right, there are a lot of them," Brown acknowledged. "The only reason in the last five years that I've been to the bank is to get quarters for laundry. For me it was just a personal real problem. So I assume that's why its happening for those guys as well. You're on you're own, you're doing laundry, and there are pain points there that no one ever really cared about before."
Perhaps because it is so personal for Brown, it never occurred to him that other people just accumulate quarters as they go. Or find a change machine. Or employ a myriad of other options for locating quarters that have sustained humanity until now. "Banks close at 5, maybe they're open Saturday, but they close at noon. I'm rarely out of bed by then," he said.
Brown's putting-quarters-in-the-mail-subscription-service comes at a premium because of the cost of shipping—and the potential for profit. "We're not necessarily doing this as a public service. We do take 10 percent of that. It's still going to be cheaper than having your laundry done."
He accepted the notion that if two dudes in two cities had come up with this radical mailing coin concept that others might have as well. "Sure. That's incredibly possible. Absolutely. I think that it is a thing that a lot of people will probably write off as being too silly?"
Washer, beware. Since the website was launched in a hurry, it doesn't yet have an SSL certificate, although the company uses Stripe for encryption and Brown expects to get the certificate in a week.
Brown is also aware that his startup is a few quarters shy of a quarter roll. "I think it would be silly for anyone to give us money for this," he said. "I don't think its silly for a customer to sign up, I think its a great service." Brown said he was "leaning towards" thinking we're in a bubble, but quickly noted Washboard's grander ambitions. "I want to do laundry detergent, I want to do fabric softener delivery. We started with kind of the quirkier aspect, which is mailing money."
Ironically for Brown, solving the "pain point" has put him smack dab in its painful grip. "It's funny because I built this thing because I didn't want to go to the bank anymore, but right now I'm just going to the bank and requesting quarters as I need them. I just got 100 bucks in quarters to handle a couple orders that came in today. They literally just get put into a light, little envelope, seal it up."
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[Image via Washboard]