Interview with co-founder of Impressed, Joseph Lai
Tell us about Impressed and why you started this business
Impressed is the first on-demand, door-to-door pickup and delivery dry cleaning and laundry services online platform in Hong Kong. Our mobile app allows our users to select a pickup and delivery time that adapts to their own schedules. Our staffs will collect the laundry at the comfort of their homes, which will be cleaned by our partnered laundry facility and delivered back to their homes at their pre-selected dates and time slot.
Before my co-founders and I started Impressed, we worked in the finance industry like most diligent people in Hong Kong. We worked long hours with active lifestyles, and the last thing we wanted to do was to deal with the laundry piling up in our rooms. We had two choices, wash them ourselves or take them to the closest laundromat / dry cleaner. There was limited options in between and our thought was, if we could bring the service to the door step, we’d be able to provide the most effective and convenient service for our customers.
Since you launched last year, what has the reception been like?
The reception has been very encouraging so far, we have built a growing group of repeating customers that we see on a regular basis. We are currently serving Hong Kong Island and Kowloon only, so we have been getting quite a lot of service requests for New Territories. We can’t wait to expand our service locations and continue building our customer base.
What are your biggest challenges?
Coming from a different career background, we spent a lot of time learning the laundry industry and set a very high quality standards for our service. Like most laundry and dry cleaning service provider, our greatest fear is losing or damaging our customer’s items. Therefore, we partnered with one of the largest laundry and dry cleaning groups in Hong Kong, and we developed a 4-step inspection system (post-pickup, pre-wash, post-wash, pre-delivery) to ensure nothing goes missing and every item is handled with the proper washing method. We take pride in maintaining the highest quality of our services, and together with our in-app status update function and live customer service support, we are confident that this will set us apart from the traditional players.
In a city with a lot of domestic helpers, who is using your service?
Most of our customers are young professionals and small families, but you would be surprised by the amount of domestic helpers using our app to handle their dry cleaning needs for their host families! After all, certain items such as suits, dresses and outerwear do require dry cleaning, and it’s just so much easier if someone can pick them up at a tap of a button.
Is there anything that surprised you so far?
We were surprised by the stickiness and order frequency of our loyal customers. It really means a lot to us to see the repeated customers that are utilizing our on-demand service to help free up their times so that they can enjoy doing what they love instead of taking care of their laundry.
What’s been the most memorable moment in running your business?
We had so many memorable moments when running a startup, with so many ups and downs, but the most memorable one was when we received our first order a few days after launching our app on the iOS App Store. It was unexpected as we have not done any marketing and we were at the midst of training session with our logistic team that evening. We were so excited that our entire team took a ride together and went over our pickup procedures to ensure everything went smoothly for our first order. We met our first customer and he had no idea how happy we were to see him.
What do you think of HK’s startup ecosystem?
I think it is certainly growing and heading to the right direction. With so many co-working spaces, accelerators and incubators in place and government support on the way, there is no better time to quit your day job and chase your dream.