Countdown to Celebrate 2015: City Sleekers

This is the next part of my many posts on the journey to Celebrate 2015. The last post was about Passenger Baggage Xpress. It can be found HERE.

A few readers gave me some feedback on my format and presentation. They are friends with whom I have worked on consulting projects. Their suggestions have led me to a few small changes. The idea and content will remain the same.

This post is about City Sleekers. Founded by Nick Price and Lance Brackett, they are a mobile waterless green car exterior cleaning service that reacts on demand to come to your location. They use an eco-friendly solution to clean your car.

The Product

City Sleekers is a mobile, green, and waterless car cleaning service. They use a spray system to emulsify and lift the dirt from your car and leave it spotless. The current model is for users to schedule appointments through a mobile app. An independent contractor will then arrive on a bicycle and perform the service. The site  says packages begin at $25. It is unclear if payment can be made via the app, in person, or if the customer has the option.

Nick didn't begin with this model. In his conversation with Jordan Raynor, Nick said he originally tried a brick and mortar concept at a local mall in St. Petersburg.  It closed within ten months as he burned through his initial $65,000 of funding. The primary reason for closing was the unforeseen amount of overhead necessary to keep the operation afloat.

Additionally, Nick said he had trouble because he hired friends to work for him. The friends couldn't see themselves as employees and tried to take advantage of their relationship with Nick. 

From this first attempt, Nick said he learned a great lesson about he viability of the mobile platform and the flexibility is provides. The use of the mobile platform has also shown Nick that allowing his workers to independent contractors with schedule flexibility allows for better employee experience leading to better customer service.

These stories have shown me how resilient Nick is to setbacks. Just his attitude on the podcast led me to believe in him and his product. He has the objectivity to see the problems with his concept and friends and make adjustments. That self awareness alone is a major factor in the possibility of long term success for any business.

Comparable Products

When I searched mobile car cleaning, I found a company called Greenshine. They are a similar concept also based in Florida with franchises in Miami and Dubai founded in 2005 by Juan Sagastume. The primary differences between the two are Greenshine does car interiors and has a brick and mortar model in addition to the mobile service. 

Upon searching the company names and the term mobile car wash, neither Greenshine nor City Sleekers have a mobile app in the Google Play Store nor iTunes as of this posting.

I like the on demand mobile model of City Sleekers. In this sharing and Uber economy, schedule flexibility is a must for anyone who wants a job. The mobile platform allows Sleekers to work when they want, and it also allows the company to save on payroll taxes by classifying as independent contractors. 

Another nice feature Nick stated about the mobile idea was knowing how many appointments where scheduled for the next day and being able to adjust work assignments accordingly. The brick and mortar concept he used previously didn't have this flexibility built into the model.

Again, Nick's ability to learn and adjust from previous attempts leads me to believe he will be successful. Founder awareness and ability to pivot based upon data is a major selling point for investors. Nick is in the right track.  

The Team

Nick Price and  Lance Brackett met in a New Venture Creation class at University of South Florida. On the Startup Stories Podcast hosted by Jordan Raynor, Nick told the story of how they were required to launch a business as part of the class requirements. The broadcast is just under 14 minutes long and is worth a listen. I got most of the details for this piece from it.

This is not Nick's first attempt as a Founder. He also started taZu tech. Their Facebook page is HERE. I tried their website as listed in the page. It came up as an empty search page page. Their last Facebook post was 2010.

Lance Brackett is still a student at USF and has been involved with campus entrepreneurial programs during his matriculation with good success. Click his name above to read his LinkedIn profile for details.

Some may see this an an example of the young start up founder whiz kids dropping out of school and becoming a millionaire. Nick himself laughed about that idea when he and Jordan spoke, HERE is a great Harvard Business Review article about how completely wrong that myth truly is, and how we buy into outliers so easily

The Rest of the Details

From a funding, mentor, and incubator standpoint, I couldn't find any direct information on Angel.co for City Sleekers nor either of the team members. Looking at the City Sleeker site, I notice that Daniel James Scott is listed as a testimonial. A little research into Mr. Scott reveals he is a Professor and Co-Founder of the USFSP Entrepreneurship Program. Check his LinkedIn profile HERE.

A search for Mr. Scott on Angel.co doesn't show an official investment nor any advisory role in City Sleekers. He may be a silent investor or at the very least a advisor. Given that Nick and Lance came up with the City Sleekers idea in a class at USF, it is reasonable to to conclude Mr. Scott was their professor.

I am open to being wrong about this. I did reach out to Nick via Twitter. It was on short notice, and he didn't immediately respond. Most likely he was cleaning a car at the time. I am happy to correct any errors. If I talk to Nick and then change anything here, I will repost it will the correct notifications.

Closing Thoughts

Just reading about Nick and listening to him talk with Jordan Raynor gives me confidence in this team and their ability to make City Sleekers work. The mobile app platform is one of the best ways to meet the on demand market they are looking to create. 

There are some possible product perception issues for customers. This NY Times article gives a quick rundown of a few along with a Texas-based company trying a similar concept. Given the shift to the on demand delivery concept combined with the independent contractor model for labor, I like the strategy here. I also like that Nick has tried a differnt model before and has learned from it.  

When Nick and Lance launch their app, I see it as being a two-fold concept. First as a customer platform for request for services. This idea is simple and given a good data connection can lead to great response times.

Second, as a contractor scheduling platform. With enough lead time, an appointment calendar can be set up and independent contractors can sign up to fill available calls. This fits exactly into Nick's desire to have people working for him who genuinely want to be there. Nick can also forecast need to find and train more people. Nick could even enlist the contractors themselves to recruit and provide financial incentive to do so.

I look forward to talking with Nick and Lance more when I get to Las Vegas. Leave a comment or two below and let me know what I may have missed.