Serynade Plays for Laundry Hotspots

By Eric Griffith

August 27, 2003

The long wait while you tumble dry your freshly laundered apparel at the local laundromat could be more tolerable with Wi-Fi Internet access. Serynade Wireless hopes its enough that customers will pay for the privilege.

Long hours, long waits, and a lot of money: that can pretty much sum up the $5 billion dollar a year coin-operated laundry (AKA laundromat) industry. According to the Coin Laundry Association, most laundromats are open on average from 6am to 10pm, they are found in almost every neighborhood in America, and they service about 89 million people a year.

That's a lot of waiting as unmentionables go through the spin cycle.

Serynade Wireless of San Francisco hopes to make the wait more tolerable. At least it would be if you've brought along your Wi-Fi equipped PDA or laptop.

The company announced today that its now making available to laundromats nationwide a full hotspot setup kit. For a cost of around $700 per location (more or less, it depend upon location and other factors), a laundromat that can get or already has a broadband connection like cable modem or DSL can start letting waiting customers online. If the laundry doesn't have broadband, Serynade will help them get it.

Serynade will (with an undisclosed partner) handle all the backend/AAA for the network. The hardware from Serynade's partner is provided to the venue owner, who can have it "installed in a matter of minutes" without tech help, according to the company statement. The hardware is then configured by Serynade remotely.

According to Shawn Hopwood, president and CEO of Serynade, his company will focus marketing efforts, such as direct marketing and working with groups like the Coin Coin Laundry Association, toward laundromat owners and operators in "cities focused on Wi-Fi, [those] with a fair amount of Wi-Fi usage" -- in other words, big cities and college towns.

Since "the market is college students and renters, we keep the prices at the bottom end," says Hopwood. Right now, Serynade plans to charge $2.95 per hour and $5.95 for a whole day of access (for those who save up all their laundry for one big day of washing.)

Serynade has no roaming agreements with other hotspot networks or network aggregators yet, but Hopwood says they are working on some deals, and that the vendor they partner with has some relationships in place that Serynade may be able to take advantage of.

The company has already launched two pilots, at Bar of Soap Laundromat in Dallas, Texas, (which reports a growing number of customers with laptops) and the Wash Club in San Francisco. The goal is to have 200 to 300 laundromats up and running as hotspots by the end of 2003. Eventually they hope to provide laundry owners with added features such as wireless monitoring of washer and dryer equipment for problems and even remote alerts to customers to let them know when a load has finished or that a dryer is now available.



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