Ironing is right at the top of many people’s list of the most hated domestic chore. They have their reasons. Unlike doing the laundry, which has been made easy by fully automatic washing machines, there are no short cuts to ironing your clothes. And in this fast-paced world, people hardly have the time or even the skill to iron clothes. The electric iron used at home is not only time consuming, but could also leave behind heat stains, discolouring clothes. So you are left with no option but carry your stack of clothes to the street Presswalah. Even there your clothes are not safe. The sparks from coal iron could well damage your precious clothes irreparably. And that is not all. You have to run behind them for a speedier delivery and even argue with them if they misplace your clothes!
The making of Purple Ironing
This is something that triggered three college mates – Vijay, Aman and Vivek – to start Purple Ironing, a one-stop solution for all ironing needs, in the entrepreneurial city of Coimbatore. The Ironing service market in India is highly fragmented and unorganized with micro-sized units calling the shots. “Purple Ironing is a common man’s attempt to get the ironing service spectrum in order,” is how Vijay, one of the founders of Purple Ironing describe their venture.
“All the upgraded service providers are aping business models from abroad and are focused on washing and dry cleaning laundry rather than customizing their service offering to solve an average India customer’s biggest pain point – Ironing. Hence, we set our primary focus on solving the ironing problems of our customers,” adds Vijay.
A lot can happen over a coffee!
The idea for Purple Ironing was born over a cup of coffee. “We three of us usually get together often for a coffee session. During this friendly banter, we discuss almost everything under the sun, from cricket to cinema, career challenges and what not. It was during one such meeting that Aman and I decided to sow the seed for Purple Ironing. We were intrigued by why the upgrade in service standards featured in various personal services like vegetable retail and automobile services was not seen in a basic daily requirement of an Indian household – ironing,” elaborates Vijay, one of its founders on the company’s inception.
A purple patch in Ironing service
The friends studied how manufacturers of readymade garments bring forth impeccable clothes into the market. “They use steam iron. We realized that steam iron is a perfect solution to unidentified ironing problems. There are countless types of fabrics like cottons, silks, linens and nylons, which require different temperature settings. What is good for one is not good for the other. Steam ironing using vacuum press tables with temperature control boxes ensures the process is modified to suit the type of garment being processed. This process is similar to the finishing process at garment factories and ensures maximum life for your garments,” says Vijay.
The luxury of steam iron at the cost of coal iron
Purple Ironing started with offering the people of Coimbatore the luxury of steam iron at the cost of coal ironing services. “To this we added the comfort of a doorstep pickup and delivery system backed by a computerized itemized billing and tracking process. This made the customer comfortable and confident about their clothes,” he says.
Purple Ironing raises an Angel round of funding from Keiretsu Forum
The team had to face several hurdles initially. As luck would have it, the State Bank of India stepped in with a loan and this helped the company to expand and sort out issues. “It was at this stage that another friend Vivek joined the team. Since then there has been no looking back. We decided to expand the business further and went over various avenues for capital generation,” says Vijay. Purple Ironing has raised an Angel round of funding from Keiretsu Forum, one of the world’s largest Angel Investment Communities.
The growth curve
What started as a venture with four ironing tables has now grown into a factory and 10 pickup points spread across the city of Coimbatore. “We started allied services like wet wash and dry cleaning of clothes to deliver a wholesome service to our customers. To make this possible, we acquired a Washhouse, which functions on the arterial Avinashi road and has branches in Tirupur and Karumathampatty,” says Vijay.
After three years of service, Purple Ironing now has distribution presence across Coimbatore Corporation area. “We have a state-of-the-art centralized ironing centre in Nanjundapuram Road, which serves hundreds of customers across the city on a daily basis,” he says.
The road ahead
Purple Ironing and Washhouse now plan to offer various exclusive services to their customers like Anti-Microbial wash, Flavoured wash (citrus, pine, cologne etc). After testing success in Coimbatore, they are hoping to expand operations across the state and country in the future.
Customers can either call to a 12-hour helpline number or just use the Purple App for booking orders, tracking status, updating service feedback and to keep track of payments. Team Purple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Website: Purple Ironing