This post was written by Zach Armstrong, Tech and Innovation Reporter at Atlanta Inno.
After almost three years at the Village, entrepreneurs Nishant Jain and Thibault Corens are expanding their dry cleaning startup into it’s own office space and warehouse.
Presso produces machines that can dry clean and press clothes in less than five minutes. The machines hold one to three articles of clothing at a time.
Since Presso’s arrival at the Village, the startup expanded it’s staff and footprint every six to eight months, said Jain. Now, it needs more warehousing and storage space than the Village can accommodate.
Presso is moving to the Northridge Commons business park in Sandy Springs. The 10,000-square-foot office space provides loading docks to ship the laundry machines. It can accommodate 40 employees and will have a research and development space, said Jain.
The Village is lucky to have one of their dry-cleaning machines staying on their Club Level floor for members to use to freshen up before meetings and more.
“[The machine] has served as an amenity to Village members, but has also become a staple stop on many tours of the space,” said Julie Pierre, director of community at the ATV. “The Presso machine gives everyone something to see, hear, and feel. It’s the perfect, tangible example of how Village companies are changing the world through technology.”
Presso courts investors
The graduation from the Village comes as the startup is also preparing for a new investment round. Jain and Corens, former Inno under 25 honorees, are currently raising what they expect to be $4 million.
Although the market economy is tumultuous and some companies are having difficulty raising capital, Jain says that Presso’s existing investors are reinvesting and doubling down on the company.
The new raise would bring Presso’s total funding to approximately $8 million. In 2020, Presso first raised a $1.6 million pre-seed round led by Pathbreaker Ventures.
The startup has 20 employees. By year-end, it plans to add another five.
The global market for Presso’s current business-to-business services is around $100 billion globally and around $13 billion within the U.S., said Jain. If the startup realizes its long-term goal of becoming a home appliance, Jain says its market potential could be as big as $800 billion.
Shifting industry focuses
When Presso expanded into the hospitality market, labor shortages spurred the development of software interfaces which would guide the machines, allowing greater accessibility.
Transforming the machines into a self-service model could be a “game changer” by installing them anywhere from airports to lounges, said Jain. Within the past year, the startup began getting more requests from the apartment and hotel industries for its machines.
Hotel executives invested in the company and brought in their own hotels as customers earlier this year, including Buckhead America Hospitality LLC and Tishman Hotel Corp., said Jain. Presso has around 89 robots contracted in over 40 select-service and luxury hotels in the Midwest, Southeast and East Coast.
Initially, the startup’s core focus in industry was for film production.
Movie productions used Presso machines for cleaning costumes on site to save time and money as opposed to sending costumes to third-party dry cleaners.
The long-term vision for the company is to bring the machines into people’s homes and create a future where autonomous clothing care is done in less than two minutes, so people won’t think of it as a chore.
“It took the microwave 30 years to mature enough that it was inexpensive for everyone to have,” said Jain. “We think within four to six years, we should be able to bring down the manufacturing costs and skyrocket the efficiency.”
At Purdue University, Jain and Corens had to do their own laundry for the first time. They wanted to change the tiresome task so that it was instant and clothes could be worn multiple times a week.
In Jain’s apartment, he created a prototype for a machine with his own hair dryer and a steamer he bought on Amazon. He took it to a local gym the next day and set-up a booth for people to place their sweaty clothes.
Multiple iterations later, and the idea eventually became Presso.