Two new businesses want U students’ dirty laundry

These two start-ups will pick up your laundry, wash it and deliver it.

CEO of Gopher Laundry Masha Kushnir poses for a photo in the new Gopher Laundry van outside of Coffman Saturday afternoon.

Erin Westover

CEO of Gopher Laundry Masha Kushnir poses for a photo in the new Gopher Laundry van outside of Coffman Saturday afternoon.

by Megan Nicolai

Students at the University of Minnesota will soon have a double excuse not to do their laundry.     

Two new businesses, LaundryBus and Gopher Laundry, will begin serving the University community next semester. Both offer pick-up laundry and dry cleaning for studentsâÄô dirty clothes.

Each business is a first entrepreneurial endeavor for the owner. Gopher Laundry is run by Masha Kushnir, a 2008 University graduate. Eddie Nevin, co-owner of LaundryBus, is a University senior.

Nevin said the idea for his company came from a coffee stain âÄìâÄì he spilled the drink on a dress shirt before a presentation and had no options for dry cleaning on campus.

Despite staying at the University as a full-time student, he said he decided to try his hand at the laundry business with a partner.

Once customers sign up with NevinâÄôs business, theyâÄôll receive a laundry bag designed to hold up to 25 pounds of clothes. A van from the company will show up each Thursday and Sunday at neighborhood drop-off points around the University and pick up customersâÄô laundry for free, then wash, sort and fold it. The van will return the freshly cleaned clothes about two days later.

Nevin has subleased a private laundromat and will use what he considers top-of-the-line machines to do his washing. All machines feature green technology âÄìâÄì they use less water and electricity, a point Nevin stresses about his business.

âÄúGreen is good,âÄù Nevin said. âÄúPeople are really responding to that side of our business.âÄù

LaundryBus will require a $10 enrollment fee with a weekly price at $19.99. Clients can do laundry more than once a week. Nevin thinks the price will set him apart from the competing business.

âÄúNobody can beat our price,âÄù he said.

Gopher Laundry, which will officially launch Jan. 19, charges $24.99 a week, but limits it to one use each week. Clients can sign up on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, but the company also offers semester or year-long contracts, which are cheaper in the long run, Kushnir said.

Gopher Laundry will make stops at each residence hall on the Minneapolis campus, as well as several places in Dinkytown. The van will stay at each designated route stop for an hour, giving students plenty of time to drop off clothes, Kushnir said.

âÄúOur focus is to be your mom on campus,âÄù Kushnir said.

Though each residence hall at the University offers laundry facilities, Kushnir said it would do little to impact her business.

Students spend 2.5 hours each week on laundry, Kushnir said, taking time away from studying or friends.

Kushnir said all washing will be done by a third party âÄìâÄì Pilgrim Cleaners, a 70-year-old Twin Cities-based company.

âÄúWe wanted to use the best in the industry,âÄù she said.

The idea for Gopher Laundry stemmed from KushnirâÄôs weekly trek to the laundromat during her academic career. She lived in the Southeast Como neighborhood and had two options to clean her clothes âÄìâÄì driving to her parentsâÄô house in Eagan, Minn. or lugging her laundry to the neighborhoodâÄôs only laundromat. Both were a major chore, she said.

Kushnir modeled her business after other pick-up laundry services on college campuses, especially her friendâÄôs business at Ohio State.

âÄúI used every contact IâÄôve ever had to start my business,âÄù she said.

Gopher LaundryâÄôs marketing strategy has been a grassroots effort. One of KushnirâÄôs friends developed her website, and sheâÄôs working on the companyâÄôs online presence through its Facebook page.

Kushnir has been on the East Bank campus frequently to post fliers and hand out leaflets to passing students.

Both she and Nevin are reaching out to fraternities and sororities on campus for business.

But whether the greek community will be interested in the services of the businesses is unsure. Katie Kolberg, a member of the UniversityâÄôs Panhellenic Council, said most chapter houses have an on-site washer and dryer.

But businesses approaching fraternities and sororities seeking business is fairly novel, Kolberg said.

LaundryBus will provide a 10 percent discount when five members of University student groups or greek members sign up for its service. It also offers customers the chance to donate $5 each semester to the student group of their choice, Nevin said.

âÄúWeâÄôre focused on giving back to the University of Minnesota community,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôre excited to work with student groups.âÄù