Carey Lai's Corner

A former lemonade stand entrepreneur turned Venture Capitalist

Online Solutions to Offline Problems (Cherry Carwash)

cherry-optOne of the areas I love investing in is finding online solutions to offline problems.  I often do a lot of product testing as an early adopter of these types of services.  Today, I provide a perspective on Cherry, the carwash service that comes to you.  It has received $5.25M in funding to date, led by Shasta Ventures and Founders Fund as well as a host of well known angel investors.  You can check it out at www.cherry.com.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I have not approached the company yet or know the entrepreneurs directly.  So, this is purely a consumer based review.

What is Cherry?  Cherry is an on-demand car washing service that charges $25 to wash the outside only or $35 to wash both inside and outside.  It leverages your location through your mobile phone to pinpoint your car’s location.  Once you request a car wash, Cherry sends you a text message notifying you the washer is on his/her way.  It sends you another text message when he/she arrives.  You can choose to unlock your car door when the washer arrives or leave them unlocked (presuming you’ve parked your car in a safe area.  Once the wash is complete, you receive another text message.

Value Proposition.  As a consumer, you’ll save time and it’s convenient.  It’s not cheaper, but if you find taking your car to the carwash a chore, this is a very helpful service.  No more driving to your local car wash, waiting in line, or deal with poor customer service.  Plus, w/ only one person washing your car, there’s only one person to blame if something is stolen or if a part of the car isn’t cleaned properly.

So, my initial take when I heard about this service was “wow, I can’t believe stuff like this gets funded on Sand Hill Road.”  But, then again, a lot of interesting ideas typically start out like this.  Why?  Because it usually takes crazy hard working entrepreneurs trying new crazy ideas we never thought we needed (a la Twitter, Facebook, etc.).   And, like most gen-1 products, I experienced a few glitches, nothing out of the ordinary as an early adopter.  I tried using the service Monday afternoon, but the service told me there were no washers available in my area.  I tried again on Tuesday afternoon and received the same message.  So, I tried again this morning and it finally worked.  The app told me it would take the washer 41 minutes to get to my location and an additional 60 minutes to wash the vehicle.  The washer arrived in 28 minutes (early and a pleasant surprise).  Pablo (the washer) was cordial and even asked if I wanted my interior sprayed with Armor All.  I said sure.  Pablo gets paid hourly and is incentivized to do a good job through ratings.  Unfortunately, he’s not allowed to take a tip, which is pretty common at car washes.  I wouldn’t mind paying him a tip for a job well done.

Overall:  I’m pleased with the service.  Pablo did a great job, took his time and was very friendly.  I liked the personalized service and perceived higher level of service vs. the average car wash

Pros:  It saved me time and I found it very convenient.  Yes, I would recommend it to my friends.

Areas of Improvement:  I experienced a few glitches when trying to schedule a car wash.  Over time, I’m sure more washers in my area will improve that experience.  I think uploading a picture of my car for the washer would also be helpful.  I can imagine if I parked my car at Intel Capital, it might be hard to find in a parking structure.  Ultimately, I wonder how price sensitive people will be and how much pain people experience in bringing their cars to the car wash.

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This entry was posted on August 8, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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