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From Digital To Physical: Klin’s Successful Gamble

The Luxembourg startup which specializes in the digitalization of dry cleaning services opened its third shop in five months. The ongoing health crisis has created new opportunities for the company.

Photo: Klin’s co-founders Pit Zens and Antoine Hron now have three stores and this could be the start of a new chain / Credits © Olivier Minaire / Silicon Luxembourg

The basic idea is simple and it is essential at the moment: Klin offers to come and pick up your laundry at home or at work and bring it back clean and ironed to the same address. You don’t need to travel or spend hours doing your own laundry or ironing, the Klin team takes care of everything.

“The health crisis has proven that our contactless service is useful. We are, of course, very transparent about the precautions we are taking. Individuals have trusted us, but B2C alone does not sustain our company,” says Antoine Hron, the co-founder of Klin.

“There are still people who are resistant because of age or because they don’t want to entrust their stuff to the first startup that comes along.”

These last few months have been pivotal for the company. The startup has had to revise its objectives along the way, despite doubling its turnover compared to the previous year.

After winning several calls for tenders (Luxtram, CFL, etc.) and signing B2B contracts to reach a hundred customers, Klin had to face the fact that most of these contracts would only be “activated” once the crisis is over and employees had returned to offices after a long period of teleworking. This is particularly the case for clients in the HORESCA sector (restaurants, hotels), which is experiencing stagnation right now.

For Antoine Hron and Pit Zens, the co-founders of Klin, the stars lined up last summer when they were offered the chance to take over the business of a former dry cleaner in one of Luxembourg’s major shopping centres.

“Initially, in the back of our heads, we had the idea of opening one or two pop-up stores especially in places where there is increased foot traffic,” Antoine explains. “These are opportunities that we didn’t necessarily look for, despite the failure of a first abortive attempt in a large shopping centre. Several of our competitors have gone bankrupt in recent months, and the health crisis has exacerbated the issues of poor management.

Last September, the startup decided to take its business from the digital world to the physical, without undermining the innovative nature of its solution. “The digital model works very well, but there are still people who are resistant because of age or because they don’t want to entrust their stuff to the first startup that comes along,” continues Antoine Hron.

The physical presence is a significant asset and a way to reassure customers. The Klin team understood this and decided not to let the opportunity go by. “The City Concorde team put in the necessary effort to allow us to set up shop in the mall. We are taking advantage of this opportunity to modernize our image, strengthen our local approach, and our ecological model.”

“Our drivers pick up the laundry from our stores, drop it off at our site, and then go back to the store to pick it up for customers.”

The result of this was that in the space of two months more than 2500 customers passed through the first Klin store. “A well-placed store can generate a very significant annual income and that’s not insignificant for a startup like us,” said Antoine.

The cost of launching a store is also optimized for the startup, which installed one or two machines, but continues to centralize all its production in Foetz, on the industrial site of the Technoport, the incubator for innovative startups. “Our drivers pick up the laundry from our stores, drop it off at our site, and then go back to the store to pick it up for customers.”

The startup now has three stores and this could be the start of a new chain. Klin opened at the end of the year in the Bonnevoie district and then a few days ago in the Beggen district, in the Espace shopping centre.

Two new addresses in the capital that, while waiting to attract a large flow of customers, are already generating a lot of external demand. Real estate agencies and property developers see in Klin a new player able to rent or sublet commercial space. But that’s not all, the network started by Klin is attracting dry cleaners who want to join the network or to be bought out.

Each proposal is studied by the Klin team who take the necessary time to reflect and then take next steps. Among them, the activation of all B2B contracts signed in the spring, if the health crisis allows it, or a European financing project for the reprocessing of wastewater, an ecological and innovative asset to the startup.

In any crisis there are opportunities, and Klin perfectly illustrates this.

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