Oxford-based Oxwash is taking on the traditionally environmental trouble makers that are the washing and dry cleaning sector. The startup has raised $3 million in a seed expansion round from notables including Holly and Sam Branson, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Indeed.com founder Paul Forster, and Pinterest and Beyond Meat backers Future Positive. Additional investors include Clean Ventures, Conduit-Ascension EIS Impact Fund, Pentland Group, and Leon Lewis of the River Island family fortune. To date, Oxwash has raised $7 million.
Founded in 2018 by former NASA scientist Dr. Kyle Grant and Oxford University Master of Engineering grad Tom de Wilton, Oxwash uses water-saving ozone technology to sterilize fabrics at lower temperatures, thermal and biodegradable chemical processes to achieve higher than medical-grade disinfection, dissolvable laundry bags, and electric cargo bikes for local pickups and deliveries. Needless to say, Grant and de Wilton are going for the gold when it comes to net-zero carbon emissions in the dirty laundry biz.
The startup is playing in a projected $11.6 billion by 2029 industry, serves 8,000+ private customers as well as commercial customers including the Marriot Hotel Group, Hurr Collective, and the NHS.
As for the backstory, like most great startups, Oxwash was born from frustration with the status quo. While working on his Synthetic Biology Ph.D. at Oxford, Grants was fed up with the perpetually out-of-service washing machines on campus. So was does a budding entrepreneur do? Well, he spray paints a deliveroo bag blue, and offers a collection and washing service for fellow schoolmates. And the rest is history, as they say.
“We knew being just another laundry app wouldn’t cut it. Developing a model that was hyper-local, carbon-neutral, and tech-enabled – that reversed the sector’s adverse impact on the planet rather than adding to it was fundamental,” says Grant.
And perhaps it’s the original delivery bag that also adds to the company’s ethos: All riders are fully employed and paid in excess of the national living wage. Yes, I’m looking at you Gorillas.
“When I met Kyle and Tom, the founders of Oxwash, I knew immediately they were the type of purposeful leaders I love to work with; their passion, drive, and enthusiasm for sustainable laundry was infectious. Through the Collective Impact programme I get to meet the most inspiring founders and am constantly blown away by their innovative, creative and commercial approach to sustainable business. Oxwash will turn the traditional laundry sector on its head, proving yet again that purposeful business is great business,” concludes Chief Purpose and Vision Officer at Virgin Holly Branson.