After he graduated from university, Daniel Oduro worked for Nestle in Ghana in the sales force and then as a training manager for a total of 6 years. He then moved to Merchant Bank of Ghana as a product manager. He had an idea for a self-service laundromat for students on a university campus, so in mid-2007 Daniel incorporated and registered Speedwash as a business and began researching washers, dryers, sources for these machines, location and some funding. Daniel used this idea as the basis for applying to the Believe Begin Become competition, where he placed in the top 10 and won $10,000 seed money and $7,000 in business support services.
First Laundromat on University Campus
Located on the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology campus, Daniel opened in early 2008 his self-service Speedwash laundromat with 3 commercial washers and 2 commercial dryers imported from the U.S. His customer target of university students taught him within his first 3 months that they are mostly unfamiliar with doing their own laundry, especially with washing machines. This fact motivated Daniel to offer drop-off/pick-up full-service laundry as well as delivery to/from their dormitory.
Business Plans for Expansion
The 2008 pilot launch was in one location to prove the laundromat’s viability as a business. The property with which Daniel started had not been used in 30 years and definitely not for my kind of business so it took a long time to prepare the site. It also took 6 months for the popular token-operated Speedqueen brand equipment to arrive from America. Both those factors delayed the opening of the business. He has three part-time assistants to ensure that the machines run properly. He also consults occasionally with financial and accounting specialists. During the 3 months of summer and 2-week semester breaks, he tries to fill the revenue gap by offering laundry service to administrative staff and on-campus businesses (e.g., banks, post office, food service, etc.). Daniel said, “My business plan provides guidelines and directions. But as I learn from the realities of the business, like moving from self-service to full service laundry, I must evolve the business plan and re-engineer the processes to meet the new environment. I’ve also learned to manage expectations of my stakeholders including my customers and my landlord.” At the time of this 2009 interview, he planned to eventually expand the laundromat to locations near other schools, add employee training, build delivery capacity, and find ways to fill seasonal revenue gaps. As important, Daniel wants to extend his customer base and their loyalty.