You know that pile of laundry you’ve been meaning to get to — the one with the untreated grass stains from the kids’ soccer tourney that have entered permanent-shmear status? What if I told you that you never had to drop another load of laundry into the washer again, ever?
Well, you don’t. Utah startup Dree can do it for you.
I’m not kidding. Just picture it: a laundry concierge service (cue angelic choir). It’s such a popular concept that Dree is already seeing 45 percent month-over-month growth in its first year as one of Silicon Slopes’ recent hatchlings. That kind of growth makes sense when you see how Dree is making life easier for people plagued with dirty laundry — pretty much every one of us.
Having engineered its online platform from the ground up, Dree has streamlined the customer experience. All customers have to do is create an account, set preferences on details like preferred detergent and fabric softener, and select your pickup date and time. Stuff the dirty laundry in your Dree bag and leave it on your porch, and voilà! Your “dreepro” (the company’s term for the person who handles your laundry service) picks it up and delivers your laundry clean, folded, and ready to put away the next day.
Unlike many peer-to-peer services — think Instacart and Uber — dreepros are paired with customers long-term, so they get to know the nuances of what works for each customer.
“We’ve taken a lot of time, a lot of testing, engaging daily with our members to understand the features they want,” says Dree co-founder and CEO Edgar Carreon. “The laundry experience is different for everyone: some hang dry, some don’t; some use fabric softeners, some don’t. How we deliver that experience is very personalized.”
Two birds, one stone
Why create a company that’s aiming to become the Doordash of laundry? First, Carreon says the company wants to “give back the time you really can’t buy,” citing the average 552 hours we spend on laundry each year — about 44 percent of the 1300 hours a year we apparently dedicate to household chores. But even more, Dree wants to provide a path for those in need of a work-from-home foray into the gig economy.
“One of the things about the gig economy is that it comes off as if it is for anyone. All you have to do is click on an app and sign up. [But for many types of gig work], it’s a high-cost venture,” Carreon says. “You have to have a vehicle and be out of the house for long periods of time. Your income is inconsistent — it could be great today, not so great tomorrow. We wanted to create work opportunities through this gig model that can provide consistent income.”
As uncomfortable as it sounds, Carreon says, eight out of ten loads of laundry done at home are done by women, so Dree built around those needs in particular. “Most of the women who are missing out on the gig economy are either stay-at-home moms or single-car households,” he says. “There’s a connection that has to be made, a large group in our community that has been left out of the gig economy.”
Carreon says that for him, Dree’s mission comes from a very personal place. “A lot of my experience drives what I do,” he says. “I’m an immigrant. I came to the States when I was 10. I think about my mom, having to be out of the home for lots of hours working. She wasn’t able to be with us, never able to go to things like parent-teacher conferences. I think if my mom had been around but still had the ability to feed us and participate financially, it would have been totally different. Not that all of [our dreepros] are in that situation, but I think of moms having to make those decisions. That’s 100 percent top of mind for me.”
With the needs of dreepros at the forefront, Dree has paid attention to the details. Carreon says dreepros can earn up to $900 a week, with most earning an average of $500 to $600 a week. Dree also partners with a provider to offer workers and their families affordable healthcare.
“Because we have a large group of Spanish speakers that typically don’t have a relationship with their bank, we partnered with an all-Spanish bank,” Carreon says. “Dreepros can open up an account, get direct deposit, have a debit card, and have resources.”
Dree provides the laundry supplies and discounts on washer and dryer maintenance. The company covers up to $1,000 in repair and replacement insurance on each laundry order.
Since dreepros are paired with customers, the company’s platform also makes it easy for both parties to have flexibility, communicate any schedule changes, and provide back-ups if a dreepro is unavailable for a customer’s regularly scheduled order.
“Now that we’re looking to fill other positions, we’re tapping into our dreepros,” Carreon says. “That’s exciting to me — we just extended our first offer to somebody who’s been a dreepro. We want 80 percent of our workforce to be women, so as we’re developing these positions, we’ve got to be thoughtful of the fact that these are still the same moms who want a flexible work environment. Our COO even does a lot of her work remotely.”
The COO of Dree is Natalie Paul, who some may recognize as a Utah-based angel investor alongside her husband Scott. Paul went from one of Dree’s early customers to co-founder and COO last year through a series of serendipitous connections. Carreon says her impact in shaping the company has been significant.
Having considered other locales, launching in Utah was intentional for Carreon and his co-founder and CTO Tony Mucci. “We wanted to go where people were nice because we knew we were going to make mistakes in the beginning,” Carreon says. He also noted that in addition to the level of activity happening with tech startups and great support from the governor, Utah’s higher-than-average household size makes the Beehive State “a good place to fill an entire bag and see how long it takes to process that laundry.”
Dree is currently available along the Wasatch Front, with plans to go statewide. The company is also testing in the Seattle area, honing logistics to serve a more densely populated region. With plans to release the app in the next few months, Dree is dedicated to making its digital platform even more efficient for both customers and dreepros.
With all this tech, customer support, and female empowerment underway, consider the fact that a dreepro could be giving you back those ever-precious minutes the next time you’re folding that never-ending load of whites.
Laundry doesn't have to be a never-ending chore that leaves you feeling overwhelmed.