With a $5,000 grant in May from the Portland-based Libra Future Fund, which gives money to young people looking to create or broaden Maine businesses, the Lazy Mule guys have begun working with outside firms to develop software that would allow others to create and run laundry-pickup-and-delivery businesses at other colleges or in the nonacademic world.
“We’re making it so someone at Bowdoin can start Polar Bear Laundry,” said Russell, the Lazy Mule/DormHamper “computer guy” and Web site creator.
Rather than selling franchise rights to Lazy Mule, the Colby-trained entrepreneurs plan to have DormHamper provide the software at a “relatively low upfront fee.” Then, using a Web-based e-commerce system, DormHamper would process all credit card transactions for those who have bought and are using its software, which Russell and his partners hope to launch by September 2008.
In return, DormHamper would receive a percentage of each sale it processes, according to the business’s plans.
Born of a conversation over Chinese food, Lazy Mule Laundry and its newly formed parent company, DormHamper, have proven themselves key to the founders’ job searches.
Before they graduated, Russell, King, and Solar landed jobs in Boston or New York City. Mullins was heading to Japan to work in business.
Russell, King, and Solar said that, in a highly competitive job market, they were called for interviews because Colby, Lazy Mule, and DormHamper were on their résumés. And in those interviews, the young entrepreneurs say, the focus was largely on their campus-based laundry businesses.
“I wouldn’t have a job already if it weren’t for Lazy Mule,” said King, who was hired as an analyst with Citigroup in New York City.
Added Russell, a new associate with L.E.K. Consulting in Boston: “It was one of the major things we talked about in the interview. It was pretty much Colby‚ and ‘Tell me more about Lazy Mule.’”