Dry Cleaning Square: Kamran Barseghian

Barseghian tell Startups how the idea for his online dry cleaning business came from his business partner and former customer being late for collection

Name: Kamran Barseghian
Age: 25
Company: Dry Cleaning Square
Staff numbers: 2
Location: South West London
Date launched: 18/02/2013
Website: www.drycleaningsquare.co.uk

Tell us what your business does:

Dry Cleaning Square is an online dry cleaning service. It provides a unique offering as there are no other companies in London like it. The customer signs up, picks from the list available what they would like cleaned and then chooses their own timeslots for us to collect and deliver their orders. For example, they can have their dry cleaning collected from their home on Monday from 10pm to 11pm and have it delivered back on Friday between 6pm and 7pm. We run the service until 11pm daily for total convenience. It’s exactly like Ocado.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I used to run a dry cleaning business and my partner of dry cleaning square was my customer. He was always running late and I used to have to wait for him after closing time. We got talking and thought how amazing it would be if customers could pick their own times for collection and delivery with an option till 11pm.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Just from my own experience of working in a dry cleaners. Seeing customers having to go out of their way to get their dry cleaning made me think there must be a better way. In addition, not many people work where they live so by the time they get home most dry cleaners are closed.

What were you doing before starting up?

I worked in dry cleaning for many years and my partner is in IT. So having an online dry cleaning business gets the best out of both of us.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, and the aim is to go national, me and my partner have no intention of staying small.

How did you raise the money?

Personal savings went on the website and stock. At the moment we use our personal car for the collection and delivery of the dry cleaning but ultimately we are saving for a van.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Most of the challenges were to do with the website. There was a lot of amendments made and a lot time, stress and money put into it. We overcame these with outside help and putting in all the hours possible that we could.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We have an outside source who carries out the manual cleaning of the orders. So in essence we are a middle man, but a very professional middle man with an amazing system in place that makes dry cleaning convenient and efficient.

What was your first big breakthrough?

I would say our first breakthrough was a customer making an order within two days of launching the company. I think this made us confident that the business will work.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Be smart, make sure there is room for your business to make money in the industry you are going into. Really believe in your product/service and be vocal about it. Be very cautious about your branding and advertising as this can be very costly if you’re not careful. Make sure the advertising or marketing you are doing is effective. And most of all, work really, really, hard to make sure your customer is always happy, because without them there will be no business.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

At the level that Ocado is at today. Maybe have 50 vans and over 100 employees. I want our brand to be as recognisable as Ocado. I want everyone who does dry cleaning to know about us and be able to use us. I also want our service to offer even longer delivery and collection hours. Finally, I want to be making a sound profit.

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