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Self-service laundrettes aren’t anything new in Malaysia. Chances are, there’s probably one not too far from you right now.

If you live in the Klang Valley, one brand you might be familiar with is dobiQueen. Founded by Nini Tan and Senglee Tan, the company now has 82 outlets across the region.

Before founding dobiQueen, both Senglee and Nini worked as digital marketing managers with Foto-ZZoom, a photography services company. In 2015, though, the two decided to start their own venture.  

The inspiration to embark on the self-service laundry business came from personal experiences, Nini told Vulcan Post.

The co-founder explained that when she started living on her own, she struggled with juggling household chores alongside her demanding career.  

“When I was young, I witnessed my mother experiencing the same struggles with household chores,” she shared. “There were days I remembered when I begged my mother to read bedtime stories to me but she could not relent as there were piles of laundry and other household cleaning to be sorted.”

Image Credit: dobiQueen

Realising that she shared the same struggles with her mother, Nini felt compelled to provide a solution. But as mentioned, self-service laundry shops are nothing new.

Yet, she felt like there was something missing.

“In my years of discovering the self-service laundry industry and building dobiQueen, I noticed a gap in the market where customers had to rush back to the laundromat to transfer their wet clothes to be put in the dryers due to the absence of staff,” she pointed out.

“That was when an idea came to mind on how the laundry industry could be greatly improved.”

Revamping the industry

Starting dobiQueen, Nini and Senglee wanted to revolutionise people’s perception towards laundry.

What differentiates dobiQueen from its competitors, Nini believes, is innovation and convenience. This is underpinned by the practice of having a supervisor at each store who can assist with customers’ laundry.

“With an assistant ready to assist with moving wet clothes to dryers as well as clothes stacking, our customers are free to go off to have a meal, exercise, or walk their pets as they have been granted one hour of free time,” she explained.

Adding to the convenience factor, Nini said dobiQueen rents parking spaces in crowded areas to ensure customers can easily drop off their laundry.

Essentially, dobiQueen hits a sweet spot between self-service and service.

Image Credit: dobiQueen

Nini also believes that dobiQueen stands out thanks to the quality it offers, as it utilises branded detergents and softeners such as Downy and Breeze. They also offer advanced machines, including crease-free dryers.

But perhaps the most unique service offered by dobiQueen is its door-to-door six-hour laundry pickup service, which is supposedly the first of its kind in Malaysia.

Through this service, dobiQueen allows customers to have their laundry picked up, cleaned, folded, and returned to them in as fast as six hours.

“I believe we have been pretty impactful by looking at our growth which has expanded from five outlets to 82 in just eight years,” Nini said. “That speaks volumes about our growth in the industry.”

This year, dobiQueen aims to open 20 more outlets. So far, all outlets are self-owned, but Nini mentioned the possibility of franchise opportunities down the road.

Giving back to the community

Beyond offering laundry services to the community, dobiQueen also empowers the workforce that it employs, focusing on hiring women, especially those from the B40 and single mothers’ communities. 

“It all goes back to my own experiences growing up,” Nini said, recalling her mother’s struggles.

Image Credit: dobiQueen

“But what struck me was that this is not just my story. It is the story of countless women out there. Women who are working tirelessly, often without recognition, to keep everything running smoothly at home and work.”

So, through dobiQueen, Nini wanted to do more than just run a business. Rather, she also wanted to make a positive impact on humanity, especially to mothers.

“That is where the name dobiQueen comes in,” she said. “It’s a nod to the queens of the household, the women who often bear the responsibility of keeping everything running smoothly on the home front.”

Image Credit: dobiQueen

Aligning with this, dobiQueen is always cognisant about offering job opportunities to women, empowering them to take on leadership positions as well, both at the managerial level in outlets and within the corporate team. 

“We have, to date, successfully employed eight single mothers,” Nini added. “Besides that, our company is dedicated to supporting women by purchasing festival gifts from NGOs.”

Some NGOs dobiQueen has worked with are Dignity for Children Foundation where they collaborated with refugee mothers, Kintry, which is run by a single mother entrepreneur, and The Asli Co., where they engaged with aboriginal mothers to handcraft soaps.

This year, the laundry company has also collaborated with Komuniti Tukang Jahit (KTJ) to create handmade pouches. 

Growing and changing with the times

“Being an entrepreneur is not all smooth sailing,” Nini reflected on her journey. “Like any other business, we have faced our fair share of challenges along the way.”

What has helped, though, is practising a growth mindset. Much like developing muscles, Nini believes that with growth comes pain, but it trains them to overcome obstacles and adapt to changes fast.

She elaborated, “Challenges will always come our way, and with the growth mindset, seeing challenge as an environment that promotes growth, and increasing awareness, we have been able to keep moving forward.”

Image Credit: dobiQueen

As such, the entrepreneur has learnt over the years that it’s important to invest in people and their growth. Today, dobiQueen invests in various trainings for its team, such as ones for effective communication.

Nini believes that investing in the team, which is the backbone of the company, will allow dobiQueen to achieve its ultimate goal—becoming the dominant, number one player in Malaysia’s laundrette industry.

Driving this goal is the same vision Nini has had since day one, which is to reduce the burden of household chores, allowing people to reclaim their time and energy.

“We measure our success not just by the number of outlets we have, but by the impact we make in people’s lives,” the co-founder shared.

“When we see families spending more quality time together because they do not have to worry about laundry, or when working adults have more time for themselves after a busy day, that’s when we’ll know we’ve ‘made it’.”

  • Learn more about dobiQueen here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: dobiQueen

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)