now in Hou

Laundry startup unfolds new service in Houston

Hampr Lite will give Houstonians a taste of what it's laundry service is like. Image courtesy of Hampr

As Laurel Hess sat on a video call with a board member for her startup laundry service, a pile of laundry was peeking behind her.

“How can you have clothes piling up while owning a laundry business?” they asked.

Hess coolly replied, “Because laundry just doesn’t stop. It’s literally always there.”

Hampr is a hyper-local laundry and pick-up service that is connected and operated through an online app. The Lafayette-based company, which identified Houston as an early test market, links people who are in need of pick-up and wash laundry services with people in the local communities who are seeking work without leaving home.

A majority of the “washrs” who Hampr employs are stay-at-home parents and retirees who are looking for fast and steady work.

“People tend to think that we are this big national brand, but we are actually working with people in your market and you’re helping them by outsourcing your laundry,” says Hess, Hampr's foudner and CEO. “By using our service, you’re making a difference in the lives of the people who live in your community. It’s neighbors helping neighbors.”

The biggest challenge for the startup was finding the right network and getting investor interest. Hampr was part of the TechStars Austin Accelerator program and that helped expand their network and spring boarded the company on to a more national platform.

“Probably breaking out of the ecosystem was our biggest challenge that we faced,” Hess says. “Because there’s not a lot of peer-to-peer marketplace companies in Lafayette, Louisiana.”

Laurel Hess is the founder and CEO of Hampr. Photo courtesy of Hampr

Hess started the company in January 2020 and began pushing into new markets at the height of the pandemic. Hampr launched into its second market, Baton Rouge, the day that the shutdown happened.

“At first, we were a little nervous. The capital that we were raising had kind of gone away,” Hess says. “Investors were getting a little bit weary of what was going to happen.”

Two things then were true – Hampr didn’t have a lot of capital, but it also had demand in Houston – specifically The Woodlands/Kingwood area, as well as demand in DFW and New Orleans. Hess and her team then made the decision to launch in those markets, relying only on the people they knew in those areas and without any capital expenses.

“We had to do a lot with little – we didn’t have a whole lot of runway left,” she says.

Hess and her team began securing investors through their current networks in places like Houston. Then, a few months into the pandemic, they partnered with a health system to borrow the Hampr technology for PrestoHealth, a platform that delivers prescriptions. By harnessing the technology for another use, it became a way to earn more income for Hampr and they were able to launch into more new markets very quickly.

“The model itself is pretty solid and is deceptively simple,” Hess says. “Our COO in Houston grew the area without any capital investment. That’s how we were able to grow and survive the pandemic. And then once kids started back at school in August, things got crazy again and the laundry side started to pick up.”

The platform, which starts at $39 a year, is available Houston, Tomball, Conroe, The Woodlands, Kingwood as well as San Antonio, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Jackson, Miss., Mobile, Alab., Jacksonville, Fla., Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina, Phoenix, Ariz., and Denver, Colo.

This week, the company rolled out a new service called Hampr Lite, where customers can pay a little more per load but can use it as an entry point into the platform without a full-year commitment. The service is available in some of its markets, including Houston.

“It’s kind of amazing because once you realize how much mental gymnastics that laundry takes from your weekend. You start to see what you can accomplish when you’re not worried about moving clothes from the washer to the dryer,” she says. “Then you realize there’s so much more room in your life for activities.”

Hampr gives stay-at-home parents or retirees an income option. Photo courtesy of Hampr

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Building Houston

 
 

Here's your one-stop shop for innovation events in Houston this month. Photo via Getty Images

Houstonians are transitioning into a new summer month, and the city's business community is mixing in networking and conference events with family vacations and time off. Here's a rundown of what all to throw on your calendar for July when it comes to innovation-related events.

This article will be updated as more business and tech events are announced.

July 10 — Have a Nice Day Market at the Ion

Stop by for a one-of-a-kind vendor market - #HaveANiceDayHTX - taking place at the Ion, Houston's newest urban district and collaborative space that is designed to provide the city a place where entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities can come together. Free to attend and free parking onsite.

Have a Nice Day is a creative collective with a goal of celebrating BIPOC makers, creators, and causes.

The event is Sunday, July 10, 4 to 8 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 12 — One Houston Together Webinar Series

In the first installment of the Partnership's One Houston Together webinar series, we will discuss supplier diversity an often underutilized resource for business. What is it and why is it important? How can supplier diversity have long-term impact on your business, help strengthen your supply chain, and make a positive community impact?

The event is Tuesday, July 12, noon to 1 pm, online. Click here to register.

July 14 — Investor Speaker Series: Both Sides of the Coin

In the next installment of Greentown Labs' Investor Speaker Series, sit down with two Greentown founders and their investors as they talk about their experiences working together before, during, and after an equity investment was made in the company. Attendees will get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most important relationships in a startup’s journey and what best practices both founders and investors can follow to keep things moving smoothly.

The event is Thursday, July 14, 1 to 2:30 pm, online. Click here to register.

July 15 — SBA Funding Fair

Mark Winchester, the Deputy District Director for the Houston District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, will give a short intro of the programs the mentors will discuss. There will be three government guaranteed loan mentors and two to three mentors co-mentoring with remote SBIR experts.

The event is Friday, July 15, 10:30 am to 1 pm, at The Cannon - West Houston. Click here to register.

July 16 — Bots and Bytes: Family STEAM Day

Join the Ion for a hands-on learning experience to learn about tech and robotics and gain insight into the professional skills and concepts needed to excel in a robotics or tech career. This event will be tailored for 9-14-year-olds for a fun STEM experience.

The event is Saturday, July 16, 10 am to 1 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 19 — How to Start a Startup

You have an idea...now what? Before you start looking for funding, it's important to make sure that your idea is both viable and valuable -- if it doesn't have a sound model and a market willing to pay for it, investors won't be interested anyway.

The event is Tuesday, July 19, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 20 — Perfecting Your Pitch

Join the Ion for their series with DeckLaunch and Fresh Tech Solutionz as they discuss the importance and value of your pitch deck when reaching your target audience.

The event is Wednesday, July 20, 5:30 to 6:30 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 21 — Transition On Tap: Investor Readiness with Vinson & Elkins LLP

Attorneys from Greentown Labs’ Gigawatt Partner Vinson & Elkins LLP, a leading fund- and company-side advisor for clean energy financing, will present an overview of legal considerations in cleantech investing, geared especially toward early-stage companies and investors. The presentation will cover the types of investors and deals in the cleantech space and also provide background on negotiating valuation, term sheets, and preparing for diligence.

The event is Thursday, July 21, 5 to 7 pm, at Greentown Houston. Click here to register.

July 28 — The Cannon Community 2nd Annual Town Hall Event

Partner of The Cannon, Baker Tilly, has played an integral part in the success of Cannon member companies. Join the Cannon community for The Cannon's 5-year anniversary celebration!

The event is Thursday, July 28, 4 to 7 pm, at The Cannon - West Houston. Click here to register.

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