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Washlava poised to grow with fresh capital from LG Electronics

Margie Manning

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Photo credit: Business Wire

Washlava, a Tampa technology company focused on creating a cashless laundry network, is poised to expand, now that it has closed on its latest equity financing.

LG Electronics, a South Korean multinational electronics company, was the sole investor in the Series A-1 equity financing. The total amount of capital raised was not disclosed.

The company raised $12.2 million prior to the LG funding, according to CrunchBase.

The new funding, on top of a $5 million growth financing earlier this year, gives Washlava about two years of runway, said Todd Belveal, Washlava founder and CEO.

Belveal previously co-founded Silver Car, a mobile-app based rental car company that sold to Audi.

“Our investment in Washlava is in consideration of its innovative technology in laundry solutions and our confidence in Washlava’s exceptional management team and continued success,” Sungwook Kim, head of global open innovation at LG Electronics, said in a news release. “We look forward to growing our relationship to advance the technological development of new laundry solutions.”

Two growth tracks

Washlava has a propriety technology platform that allows customers to reserve and pay for laundry machines through their smartphones.

The company is pursuing two growth tracks — higher education and commercial laundries, which Belveal calls shared laundry centers.

In the college and university space, the company just completed an installation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It’s roughly a 500-machine deployment, the biggest we’ve done to date,” Belveal said.

While Washlava’s platform is brand-agnostic and will work on any laundry machine that’s been outfitted with the technology, the size and design of the LG “Giant” model works for school laundries, he said.

“My initial approach was to enable traditional operators in our space with our technology. Now, we’re not exclusively doing that. In fact, our priority is to compete for the business with the appliance included,” he said. “We’re confident in it and we now have access to a large fleet of LG appliances in the U.S. ready for deployment on college and university campuses. We’re preparing to ramp up pretty quickly in terms of having 5,000 to 6,000 units in place over the next 12 months.”

LG also makes smart phones and is a brand that’s familiar to most 18-to-22-year-old college students.

“For us, in terms of a tighter integration between the smart phone and the appliance over time, we can bring those two pieces of equipment closer together, adding more machine control features to the app that give users more control and the ability to make laundry more convenient and easier,” Belveal said.

The company also has a commercial laundry in Carrollwood and plans to open a second facility in Tampa soon, he said.

Revenue has tripled since the Carrollwood store was converted to the Washlava technology about two years ago. Productivity, which is measured in loads of laundry per day per machine, is double the national average.

The Carrollwood store also allows Washlava to gather a lot of data on its customers, such as learning how far they will drive to get to a laundry facility.

“We are beginning a national expansion of these shared laundry centers, predominately new build and some conversions like Carrollwood,” Belveal said.

Washlava has a new store design that is a significant upgrade from the traditional laundromat, but the key is cleanliness, he said. “Technology is great, and apps makes life easier, but cleanliness is still the most important factor people use in selecting a facility to do laundry in.”

He also has ambitions to expand overseas. The company has a pilot project in Barcelona and plans to expand to Asia as well.

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