Putting a sustainable spin on laundry, Oxwash, a UK-based startup backed by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has raised £500,000 in equity investment through a public crowdfunder.
The company founded in 2018 by ex-NASA scientist and Forbes Europe’s 30 under 30 alumni, Dr Kyle Grant and Oxford engineer Tom de Wilton, secured £250,000 from five angel investors including Magnus Rausing (Tetra Pak), Kal Patel (ex-CEO of Best Buy) and Vala Capital, in addition to a quarter of a million from 318 public Crowdcube investors.
And follows a £2.08m raise in June 2021 from committed investors such as Holly and Sam Branson, together with Pinterest and Beyond Meat investors – Future Positive Capital (NYC/SF), who are backing the sustainable on-demand laundry service trying to achieve net zero carbon emissions for the whole process, from collection, through washing, back to delivery.
Cleaning up the traditional and environmentally costly washing and dry cleaning sector with its space-age technology, Oxwash uses water-saving ozone technology to sanitise fabrics at low temperatures achieving higher than medical-grade disinfection; biodegradable detergents along with electric cargo bikes for a sustainable washing and hyper-local zero-emission logistics footprint.
Re-engineering the cleaning process from the ground up, the UK’s first sustainable on-demand laundry service has grown more than tenfold since the start of the pandemic.
Dr Kyle Grant, chief executive, said Oxwash was “totally blown away by the level of interest.”
“Our goal was to build a wide network of shareholders who care about our purpose as much as we do and can be true ambassadors for the brand, which is why we capped the investment level at £5,000 per person.
“To witness £100k pledged in just three hours, and be able to close the round in fifteen, we’re over the moon with the outcome and level of support.
“We know being just another laundry app won’t cut it. Developing a model that is hyper local, carbon neutral and tech enabled – that reverses the sector’s adverse impact on the planet rather than adding to it is absolutely critical.
“Partnering with the likes of Reckitt, The Oxford Foundry and Founders Factory, as well as being part of the Collective Impact programme with Virgin StartUp have given us access to some of the best minds in business which has undoubtedly been a leg-up for the business.
“Our team is not only developing chemistry that works at 20˚C better than at 40˚C or higher, but we have integrated water reclamation and reduction technology into our process so that saves up to 60% of the water consumption versus you washing at home or any other typical commercial washing service.
“There is a growing awareness and appetite for green washing services – and we’re confident that Oxwash can clean up and deliver substantial returns.”
Oxwash has previously secured £4.3 million from a cohort of A-list investors including: Clean Ventures (NYC), Conduit-Ascension EIS Impact Fund, Pentland Group (Berghaus and Speedo), Leon Lewis (River Island), founder of Indeed.com, Paul Forster, FMCG giant Reckitt, TrueSight Ventures, Founders Factory and Twitter’s Biz Stone.
With the global “green cleaning” market set to reach US $11.6 billion by 2029, Oxwash believes there is a lot to win in purging and decarbonising the unsustainable and toxic laundry industry.
The UK industrial laundry sector processes approximately 743,651 tonnes of laundry a year alone. Just the water requirement alone uses the volume of Lake Windermere (360 billion litres) to clean our clothes at home.
Oxwash’s state of the art washing technology, cleaning methods and door-to-door service are driving towards net zero carbon emissions, significantly reducing the environmental impact of existing laundry and dry cleaning processes.
All riders (couriers) are fully employed and like the rest of the team are paid in excess of the national living wage.
The responsible laundry firm now has more than 8000 individual customers, alongside clients such as the Marriott Hotel Group, Hurr Collective and the NHS.
The new funds will be used to expand the service geographically by adding more 100% electric vans to the fleet, as well as continuing to engineer best-in-class software and technology that will facilitate Oxwash to reach its net-zero goals, and further enhance fulfilment processes linked to the growing circular fashion economy.
In April 2021, Reckitt announced a new strategic partnership between its heritage clothes care brand Vanish and the space-age laundry service.
The ‘Oxwash, powered by Vanish’ partnership means Oxwash uses the new Vanish sustainable formula – Vanish 0% – in its cutting edge washing facilities, also known as lagoons, to help give old clothes a new lease of life, preventing tonnes of clothes from ending up in landfill.
When asked about how Oxwash is collaborating with one of the world’s biggest hygiene and health brands, Charlotte Schofield, Venture Partnership Manager at Reckitt said “Together, we are helping Oxwash scale their solution to reach more consumers, and reduce the impact that laundry has on our environment.”
Paul Forster founder of Indeed.com invested in the sustainable laundry service because he believes that “Oxwash is one of the most exciting businesses I’ve come across. I love the focus on sustainability, and it’s a scalable model so I’m expecting it to grow into a really big business.”
Global laundry usage also releases 14,000 tons of microfibers into the oceans each year – meaning a third of all plastic found in the ocean are microfibers from clothes.
Oxwash is deploying microfiber filtration technology to remove more than 95 percent of fibres shed during washing, preventing plastic pollution from reaching waterways and drinking water.
Killing bacteria through a three stage approach: ozone sanitisation, chemical sterilisation and thermal decontamination, the eco-friendly firm’s laundry processes reduce 99.99999% of infections – 100 times better than the NHS standard.
With no-contact delivery and scientifically proven high level of disinfection, Oxwash was chosen to sterilize items used during the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trial, as well as supporting the NHS front line.
Launched in 2018, while Dr Grant was completing his Synthetic Biology PhD at the University of Oxford, the business was born out of his frustration with the perpetually broken washing machines on campus.
Armed with a deliveroo backpack spray-painted blue, he began collecting and washing clothes for fellow students. Things quickly snowballed – and as interest grew, it developed into the growing on-demand laundry business.
“Our world is in unknown territory and people are turning to tech for options to improve their lives. Oxwash is using revolutionary technology that can be utilised to prevent viral transmission on textiles during this period and give people reassurance about their safety and those of their loved ones.” added investor and co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone.