HomeFundingSpinning laundry sustainably Oxwash picks up €11.7 million and earns B Corp...

Spinning laundry sustainably Oxwash picks up €11.7 million and earns B Corp certification

UK-based startup Oxwash is cleaning up the laundry industry. Picking up about €11.7 million, the cleantech startup is now ready to expand its footprint and has also become B Corp certified.

The laundry industry isn’t as clean as may be perceived. That cotton fresh scent of clean laundry masks an underlying industry that has quite damaging environmental impacts. It’s an industry which uses millions of litres of water and is estimated to, on a global level, release 14,000 tons of microfibres into the oceans each year – meaning a third of all plastic in the ocean is coming from clothes. And that’s before even mentioning toxic detergents and the carbon emissions from delivery and collection of dry cleaning. 

Oxwash is aiming to make a change and is shaking up a traditional industry. On a mission to decarbonise the dry cleaning and laundry sector, the startup offers sustainable on-demand laundry and wet-cleaning services. 

The funding

Today’s newly announced Series A round, totalling about €11.7 million was led by Untitled VC, the investment firm founded by lead partners Magnus Rausing (Tetra Pak) and Bertie Crawley (ZuluForest). Long-standing supporter Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, also returned for the round, as did Indeed founder Paul Forster, and Holly and Sam Branson.

It comes after the startup secured about €590k in just 15 hours in a Crowdcube campaign last year. 

Oxwash has now raised a total of over €18 million. New investors in the round include 8 Dimension Ventures, System Capital Management (Ukraine’s largest VC Fund), and Khimji Ramdas LLC. Many more existing investors chose to partake again, including Reckitt venture arm Access VC, Pentland Group, Ascension Ventures, Vala Capital, and Truesight Ventures.

Cleaning up an industry

Founded in 2017 by ex-NASA scientist and Forbes’s Europe’s 30 under 30 alumni, Dr Kyle Grant and Oxford engineer Tom de Wilton, Oxwash utilizes space-age technology to provide customers with a highly convenient service – that doesn’t destroy the planet. It was born out of the founder’s frustrations with perpetually unreliable washing machines whilst on campus. 

With the platform, customers and businesses place orders online, choose a collection and drop-off time and place, and Oxwash collects, washes and delivers, all in-house. The startup uses next-gen ozone technology to deodorize and sanitize fabrics at lower temperatures, and biodegradable chemistry formulations processes to achieve higher than medical-grade disinfection.

In addition, it has developed a ‘wet cleaning’ technique which offers a sustainable, chemical-free alternative to harmful dry cleaning. This involves using biodegradable detergents rather than carcinogenic solvents – not only does this better care for the clothes and extend garment lifespan but also reduces water consumption, saving a reported 4L per 1kg of clothes washed. 

Oxwash takes sustainable approaches through each aspect of its business, and so when it comes to delivery and collection, eco-friendly processes are also in place. The team uses a combination of electric cargo bikes as well as its own fleet of electric vans and DPDs electric vehicle service for a nationwide zero-emission logistics footprint.

Dr Kyle Grant: “Starting a business just before a global pandemic and economic crisis is no one’s ideal business plan, and as we all know the needs of consumers and businesses have changed dramatically over the last couple of years. For us, this has meant focusing on building out a solution that is frictionless for our business clients – the last thing they need to worry about is how their laundry will get cleaned.”

B Corp Certified

Oxwash has considered sustainability in each stage of business process and strategy. The service itself is inherently impact-driven and sustainability-based, but it’s clear to see the startup isn’t getting bogged down in greenwashing – it’s all clean laundry. For this, the startup has been awarded B Corp Certification – achieving and receiving a B Corp impact score of 94.9 – 19% higher than the 80 pass mark threshold.

With innovation at its core, the business is also investing in new methods such as acoustic drying, a way of drying textiles which uses soundwaves instead of heat as well as robotics and computer vision. But Oxwash wants to do even more for the planet and is targeting the complete elimination of direct greenhouse gas emissions (scope 1) from its operations in the next 12 months.

Important strategic partnerships are also fuelling sustainability credentials, such as with Reckitt’s heritage clothes care brand Vanish. The ‘Oxwash, powered by Vanish’ partnership means the sustainable laundry and wet-cleaning service uses the new Vanish sustainable formula – Vanish 0% –  to help give old clothes a new life, preventing tonnes of clothes from ending up in landfill. Nine out of ten pieces of clothing end up in landfill long before they should and up to 70% of clothing waste could have been prevented with better care habits. Both Vanish and Oxwash want to help clothes live longer by ending irresponsible washing for good and encouraging a circular economy. 

Dr Kyle Grant: “BCorp accreditation cements our commitment to responsible business and is another assurance to our customers that we are doing business the right way. It is undoubtedly the most robust certification available to demonstrate our dedication to sustainability and transparency that Oxwash is taking as a high-growth company. From our inception in 2017, the business was designed from the ground-up on the principles of the BCorp framework, using the Impact Assessment to inform the structure, governance and mission. It runs through our veins.”

Plans to keep spinning

In the last 12 months, Oxwash has quadrupled its revenue and achieved operational profitability across its three washing facilities, known as ‘lagoons’.That growth is set to continue, as Oxwash focuses on servicing more large commercial clients, primarily in hospitality and circular fashion. Current clients include the Marriott Hotel Group, the NHS, and fashion rental platform Hurr.

Intent on driving towards net-zero carbon emissions to eliminate the environmental impact of existing laundry and dry cleaning processes, the funding will be used to fuel its mission to widen its national footprint – with plans to build a giant facility with the ability to service clients up and down the country.

Magnus Rausing, general partner of Untitled VC, said: “Oxwash is a perfect example of a company that is using advanced technology to improve the product, while making the world a better place at the same time. By continuing to invest in innovation and bringing the service to more people, there is a huge opportunity here to scale up and take on the traditional laundry sector.”

Oxwash is also eyeing expansion into the USA in the near future.

Now employing over 80 people, Oxwash is projecting a 50% increase in headcount in the next year, and is on the hunt for top talent to help the service expand nationwide beyond its existing operations in London, Oxford, and Cambridge.

Dr Kyle Grant, chief executive of Oxwash, said: “This new funding will be used primarily to develop our technology and invest deeply into the complete decarbonisation of our proprietary washing process. Up to 30% will be used for expanding our software technology capabilities, 30% for the deployment of our nationwide processing facility and the remainder for business development and growth.”

Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.
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