Laundry becomes techno: putting neighborhoods out of work

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Todd Belveal is one of those serial entrepreneurs who makes it all easy. But that’s not how it started for him. Her summer internships at college were with Tiffany. There he rose through the ranks – literally – from the role of elevator operator to that of crystal sales. Under the tutelage of one of the company’s most famous salespersons, Ms. Sein, Belveal flourished. Later, Tiffany’s offered him a job as COO and became the youngest person in company history to hold that leadership role. Along the way, they paid for his MBA.

In 2012, Belveal and his team were among the first in the world to create connected cars. By mobile phone, rental, measurement of gasoline consumption, unlocking the car, etc., were possible. Silvercar has simplified the car rental experience for the business traveler. A make, model and color of car (Audi A4 silver) and a standardized rental price across the United States quickly made the company a favorite with business travelers. By the time thousands of silver A4s were purchased in 2015-16, Audi took note as well.

His first outing

Audi invested in Silvercar and then acquired it later in 2017. Following this exit, Belveal decided to tackle one of the most technological industries in the market: public laundromats; but he did his research first. “This [public laundry] hasn’t even progressed as far as the parking industry, ”he lamented, citing some of the startling statistics. “One in six households, or more than 40 million Americans, use public washing machines. And 80% of the 26,000 and more laundromats are operated with neighborhoods. Belveal has decided to change things.

With a multi-million dollar investment in a technology platform to improve the neighborhood experience on smartphones, Belveal quickly grew the business. Washlava already operates with two businesses: university residences and laundromats. “We are already on ten campuses,” he said. “Campuses are rapidly moving towards mobile accreditation, but laundry is still far behind. ”

In August 2021, Belveal was one of the VIP panelists at the Grit Daily Congressional Startup Day in Tampa, Florida. At that time, he left his role as CEO of Washlava to take up a post of Director Emeritus.

Advice to entrepreneurs

On the themes of startups and entrepreneurship. Belveal has a lot to say. “You need to understand the difference in philosophy between starting a startup designed to scale quickly and a small business. Startups get a little too much publicity, but there are a lot of failures, more so than in small businesses. You have to believe in the idea almost more than you believe in yourself.

When it comes to investment decisions, he joked, “I never pitched any idea – it’s too slow. It didn’t take long to get the seed for Silvercar once I put the right team together. You need help impressing the right investor.

A friend of mine who does a lot of startups calls them “swinging psychodramas”.

~ Todd Belvéal

He underlined the courage and tenacity that entrepreneurs need. “Once you take other people’s money, you can’t stop. You can fail because your business fails, but you cannot stop for any reason. It’s something people don’t understand – it’s not like a job. You cannot exit until you have exhausted all options to generate a return. Research shows that it takes 7-10 years for any liquidity event, so you better be prepared for it.

When Grit Daily asked Belveal if things have always been easy and went their way. His answer was an emphatic no – and a deep laugh. “All you do as a founder is raise money. I was chased by people who did not have the right expectations, I had some nasty things written about me in the journal. And you have your own struggles: the stress it puts on you and people can underestimate the risk and constant responsibility for what it can do to a person. Acknowledge burnout and recognize when you behave badly. When you’re the founder of a startup, you’re going to take a lot of shit from all sides. Complete your fundraising round, go out to dinner to celebrate, then start planning your next round.

To learn more, listen to the Grit Daily Like a Boss podcast wherever this content is streamed.


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