Rinse, Upending Laundry as We Know It, Prizes Customer Experience Above All

As the company turns five, CEO and co-founder Ajay Prakash (Dartmouth ’03) gives us a peek into Rinse’s plans for international expansion and more

There’s a reason Rinse has raised $25M to scale its laundry and dry cleaning pickup service, and it’s not simply that most people despise washing their clothes: Venture investors, including the team at Green D, see an extraordinary amount of promise and wisdom in Rinse’s team.

Co-founders Ajay Prakash (’03) and James Joun (’03) aggressively eye growth like any other startup, but they also obsess over the minutiae of product quality, employee relations, and customer service. What’s more, they experiment smartly with a multi-pronged marketing strategy to ensure the people who need Rinse most — whether they know it or not—find the company quickly and easily.

That effort is boosted, naturally, when Inc. devotes many column inches to your brand.

Prakash and Joun have help with all this, of course. They’ve recently made several key hires both internally on its engineering and marketing teams, and they’re hiring for myriad operational and field positions in each of its primary markets. The goal, as Prakash says below, is to be the first national (even global) clothing care brand —an aspiration that starts and ends with cultivating great experiences for employees and customers.

Credit: Justin Kaneps for Inc. Pictured: James Joun (‘03), left, and Ajay Prakash (‘03), right.

Read our Q&A with Prakash below, and visit rinse.com/greend for free delivery and $10 off your first Rinse experience.

Which customers is Rinse reaching most right now?

We currently serve customers in the SF / Bay Area region, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Chicago, and Boston. Until recently, Rinse was primarily live in urban markets, but we‘ve expanded coverage around San Francisco all the way down to Mountain View and beyond. We’ll be live in the East Bay, South Bay, and North Bay soon.

How do your customers learn about Rinse?

Roughly a third of our customers hear about us through word of mouth, and the rest through various marketing efforts or articles.

Which developments at Rinse are you most excited about right now?

A lot is happening at Rinse right now. Of it all, I’m most excited about how our various efforts are cohering to create a much better experience for our customers. We’re also rapidly expanding our service areas in current markets, as well as pockets of the U.S. that Rinse hasn’t served before.

What goes into scaling to new markets?

We’ve developed a playbook for expansion that we feel very confident about. It starts with ensuring we have customer service operations in place, and fortunately we’re able to execute this piece very quickly today. Once we’re ready to serve customers, we leverage our marketing playbook to build awareness and get people to try our service. Our mantra is centered on making sure that all customers have an amazing Rinse experience so they keep coming back and tell all their friends.

There’s an old saying that “well begun is half done” — to scale a market, a strong team foundation (e.g. internal operations, valets, cleaning partners) has to be in place, then we scale our amazing customer experience as a city/market grows.

Where do you hope Rinse will be in five years?

We just turned five years old, so I can tell you that a lot can happen in that time. Our goal is to be the first and largest national (and even global) brand in clothing care.

In five years, Rinse will be a household name in the U.S. and a few international locations. And we’ll continue to build an amazing team, develop a world-class service, and have a much larger base of happy and loyal customers!

Green D Ventures is a network of Dartmouth alums investing in Dartmouth-connected businesses. Click here if you’d like to learn more about venture investing with Green D.

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