Florian Färber, co-founder of ZipJet, talks to us about the on-demand laundry and dry cleaning startup.

ZipJet is an on-demand laundry and dry cleaning startup that changes the way laundry is done - instead of using traditional launderettes, orders are placed through ZipJet’s smartphone app or website.

Founded in October 2014 and backed by Rocket Internet from the very beginning, today ZipJet has 40,000 users and experiences a 30% growth month-on-month employing fifty people in London, Paris and Berlin. ZipJet is taking on the time poverty phenomenon: it wants to unlock new time for consumers, so that they can enjoy pursuits that are meaningful & contribute to joie de vivre. Needless to say, laundry does not count among these! In May 2016 it launched a same day Express delivery service for busy Londoners - the first such service in the UK.

Users are asked to select a convenient pickup time and place – even both on the same day is possible. A ZipJet driver (‘pilot’) then picks up the laundry or dry cleaning and takes this to one of ZipJet’s local facilities, where the items are processed. These are then returned to the user, clean and crisp, again at a time of the customer’s choosing. Due to the company's unique algorithm, the customer can choose from a 30 minutes pickup and delivery window.

Zipjet founders, Lorenzo Franzi and Florian Färber, both 33, have backgrounds in consulting. Hailing from Belgium and Germany respectively, they united to take on one of the key culprits of the modern time poverty phenomenon: laundry toil. Given their experience working for multinationals, both Lorenzo and Florian were familiar with the difficulty of finding time to do laundry/visit dry cleaners during the working week. The two therefore identified untapped potential in the laundry and dry cleaning market, where they realised that, by introducing an on-demand solution, this would alleviate consumer tedium and revolutionise how we go about doing our dirty laundry and dry cleaning.

Lorenzo is responsible for Operations, Finance & Investor Relations at ZipJet. Florian heads the Marketing department as well as Product & IT. Here Florian tells us more...

We came up with the idea when... Working long hours as a consultant. Lorenzo, my co-founder, also worked in consulting. We know only too well the difficulty associated with finding the time to pay a visit to the dry cleaners. We thought that, by 2014, when even doughnuts were available on-demand, it was time for laundry and dry cleaning to join the movement. And so ZipJet was born.

The biggest challenge is... Logistics! When ZipJet launched in 2014, we used a whiteboard to manually plan routes across the city. Needless to say, this primitive approach to logistics didn’t deliver the punctuality we aspired to: at the time, only 60% of our orders were actually delivered on time. Since then, our in-house team of tech superstars have developed a cutting-edge algorithm that dynamically plans routes on the basis of driver availability, as well as other important variables. As a result, our punctuality has rocketed to 96%, which is a fantastic achievement.

The average day is spent... Average days are a rarity at ZipJet: there is always something exciting going on. We are a dynamic and fast-paced startup, so every day is different! Nevertheless, I’m a big Cross Fit fan, so I do kick off with that every day from around 7-8am. After that, I usually spend some time bringing myself up-to-date with the latest industry and tech news.

Controlling our main KPIs and value drivers of the business is my primary daily focus, and I check in with the departments I am responsible for throughout the day (IT, Product, Marketing, HR, BI and R&D). Being able to develop and adjust our company strategy and vision in conjunction with our department heads is key.

From time to time, I also act as a helicopter, working operationally in specific project teams (e.g. algorithmic dispatching, our CRM strategy, customer segmentation and so on).

The team consists of... Around fifty talented individuals from all four corners of the world. The ZipJet family is split into various departments, the largest of which are Operations and Marketing. By and large, we are a young and vibrant team with a passion for technology, logistics, and, needless to say, laundry!

My favourite quote... “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” - Sam Walton

If the customer used to be king, the customer is now master of the entire universe! Success in the digital space depends on customer retention. Clever marketing might help acquire customers, but keeping them is the hard part. The actual substance, the product, needs to live up to expectations.

I am where I am today because of... Sheer hard work! I have a strong drive for excellence and fight to achieve goals. Time spent in the consulting space gave me a solid foundation for running my own business, especially in the on-demand space, where no one day is quite like the previous day.

I am who I am because of... My Bavarian roots! I grew up in Augsburg, about an hour away from Munich. My parents instilled important values from an early age, including the value of hard work.

The best advice I've been given... Be involved, but not overbearing! Giving employees the autonomy they need to do a great job is important. Nevertheless, with power comes responsibility. It’s equally important that employees own their work and feel accountable for it.

In five years I’d like to be... Running the world’s biggest platform for on-demand home convenience, having attained market leadership in the world’s most important metropoles.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online... Operationally-speaking, there’s a lot more to an online business than meets the eye. Building the app is the easy part: delivering excellence, particularly in logistics, is no easy feat. That’s why we are so proud as a business to have attained a 96% punctuality rate.

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us... Expanding too quickly, particularly before the product was right. We learned that product is key, and it’s important to make sure it is prepared before taking off. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date... There have been a couple of particularly rewarding experiences. Personally, crossing the 100,000 successful order threshold was a great moment. In recent months, taking ZipJet to the French capital has been rewarding for the ZipJet family. It has been a lot of hard work, but seeing our business prosper in three of Europe’s biggest and most vibrant metropolises is a dream come true.

July 2016