Whether you want to get your car washed, book a beauty appointment or simply do laundry, there seems to be a service aggregator or marketplace app for anything these days.
Masbagti (which means “my laundry” in Arabic) was created to deal with the latter issue. Launched in Kuwait in April 2016 by brothers Athbi and Nouri Alenezi, the app lets users choose and request a laundry service from a variety of locations, without ever picking up the phone.
Born and raised in Kuwait with British origins, Athbi studied information technology at the Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology while his brother majored in mechanical engineering at the same school.
The two brothers. (Images via Masbagti)
Athbi returned to Kuwait in 2013 where he began a job in the human resources department at the National Bank of Kuwait. His brother followed in 2014, taking a job in the oil sector. Nouri quit his job in 2015 and is now fully dedicated to Masbagti. Athi still works full time at the bank.
While settling into jobs in Kuwait, the duo noticed that the accent of many expats and locals in the country had a big impact on the overall experience of requesting a laundry service via phone.
Athbi tells us that those who take orders over the phone often do not understand different accents, which made it hard to get laundry picked up or delivered to the correct address. They also saw an opportunity to unify the numerous laundry services available across the market and to filter them by cost, speed and quality of service.
Masbagti is their solution. Currently available for free on Android and iOS, the app allows users to search for nearby laundry services, request service from one of the 22 listed laundries. Users can select a preferred pickup time and day, add a request to their basket, and checkout and pay either via Knet or cash on delivery. The average delivery time is 24 hours, but the service can sometimes be as quick as 4 hours, said Athbi. The app doesn’t list the prices of each laundry.
Customers can track their order until it gets delivered to them by the laundry service itself. Once the laundry is delivered, all data pertaining to the customer is removed from the app, apart from the receipt, according to Athbi. The cofounders wouldn’t disclose the number of downloads they have seen since launching two months ago.
Building a sales cycle
Laundry company clients who sign up to Masbagti download a separate app dedicated to all clients to manage orders they receive. Masbagti signs yearly service contracts with each company.
“We train them one by one,” said Athbi, describing their experience in training the laundry services’ staff members.
He admits that it was a bit difficult to showcase how the process works on an app knowing that many staff members are not necessarily tech savvy or may not speak English very well.
Employees working in the laundry are not the most educated, Athbi admits “They don’t know English or Arabic but when you [show] them something like this, they are willing to help and learn.”
Getting down to business
For each transaction, Masbagti takes a service charge of 200 fils (1,000 fils equals one Kuwaiti dinar) from the customer and another 200 fils from the laundry, “depending on each laundry as some of them earn more.”
Masbagti isn’t the only laundry solution in Kuwait. Entrepreneur and former banker Bader Al Kalooti had his share of disastrous laundry experiences before he decided to launch Laundrybox in 2013. The startup offers laundry lockers available for customers 24-7. Through an online account on the website or at the locker kiosk, customers can choose when they want their order completed and simply drop-off their laundry in the locker. The service started in Kuwait and is now available in Dubai and was considered among the 15 most promising startups in the UAE in 2015, according to Forbes Middle East.
There might be plenty of other laundry services, whether online or offline, that aim to make the service more reliable and efficient. Masbagti is one tool that users can try in Kuwait to make their experience more predictable. The brothers also have plans to expand outside of Kuwait. “We want to go to the GCC. There are a lot of interest from Qatar,” concluded Athbi.