I’m sure nearly everyone has heard about the The Shoe Laundry a unique business started by young entrepreneur by the name of Sandeep Gajakas. It is shockingly simple yet successful business which I’m sure is a result of thinking out of the box.
The Shoe Laundry is a service which collects the sport shoes of the customers which are repaired and washed and the new looking shoes are delivered to customer at his doorstep. The reason why The Shoe Laundry is popular is because it is one of those businesses that were started with very little investment (personal savings of the business owner). The Shoe Laundry did not have an office for the first few years. The reason is simple – they did not need one! An incident where Sandeep was challenged by his engineering classmate to clean the sports shoes after Sandeep had complained about the fact that dirty shoes or rich students was something which irritated him, ignited the idea though it was put into practice after working for a couple of years after his graduation.
The business was started from his bedroom and Sandeep himself did the deliveries, pickups and management of the business. So much so that the first advertisement campaign was executed by Sandeep himself with some help from his friends. One big advantage was setting up the business in Mumbai which is a metropolitan with lot of dust and grime. The expressions on his customers faces when he delivered the shoes after cleaning was something he enjoyed the most. The charges of Rs.120 ($3) was reasonable for most people.
Sandeep moved offices of My Shoe Laundry to his ancestral place which was a little far from the city. The Shoe Laundry’s customer base grew and soon Shoppers Mart (a retail clothing and shoe store in India) started using the services of The Shoe Laundry for after sales services for their customers and soon Sandeep saw that hospitals and star hotels lining up as The Shoe Laundry customers and also the showrooms of top sport shoe brands like Adidas, Reebok and Nike were using the services as well.
The Shoe Laundry soon faced competition from about 8-10 other competitors but could not sustain because of the tight margins and the fact that the service industry is all about satisfying the customer with quality while sticking to the timelines. The shoe cleaning process is a 10 step process. Started in 2004 today the business claims the turn over to be over 24 lakh rupees a year (about $65,000 US)!
The Shoe Laundry is a classic example of how a small business can be grown despite the competition if one is dedicated and true to his work. More examples like these will prove an inspiration for others (young and old) and I hope we see a lot of businesses like these in the future which provide goods and services based on the demand that is there in a particular geographical region.
If you know of any similar business please let me know and we would be privileged to feature the business on our blog.