Interview: Ashutosh Goyal, Director, Ananta Hotels & Resorts who created Lavender- Laundry & Dry-Cleaning Services

Uniquely Ananta, Enchantingly Udaipur | Motiverge
Uniquely Ananta, Enchantingly Udaipur | Motiverge

With properties in Rajasthan, Ananta Hotels and Resorts epitomises luxury in blissful settings which is reflected in the ambiance of every guestroom. Making a promise of service excellence delivered by their attentive staff, their resorts make for excellent choices for both your relaxing holiday or corporate off-site. Spread across acres of lush greenery, the resorts encompass speciality restaurants, complemented by a host of wellness and recreation facilities. ensuring that your every need is catered to.

Ashutosh Goyal, Director, Ananta Hotels & Resorts

Ananta Hotels and Resorts is a family business, which has 6 hotels in Udaipur, Pushkar, Ranthambore, Kota and Jaipur. Ashutosh Goyal, Director, Ananta Hotels & Resorts is handling finance and procurement for the group. Earlier, they had individual purchasing for all the hotels and when he joined the business, he realised that this wasn’t the ideal way of working. Therefore he started a centralised purchasing where he could procure items in his store in Jaipur and then distribute it to the hotels. Due to this centralised purchasing, their volume went up which helped reduce costs. This system became so effective that he started procuring for hotels outside their group as well. This helped generate additional revenue that they hadn’t planned for. This is when he started talking to other hotels and restaurants who were having a tough time with laundry and decided to create ‘Lavender- Laundry & Dry-Cleaning Services. It was partly funded by the additional revenue that he generated in his procurement venture and partly funded by a bank loan.

The laundry and dry-cleaning services by Lavender are for those looking to improve their functioning via outsourcing. It is the ideal choice for hotels and restaurants that wish to lower the cost of operations and increase the safety of staff. Likewise, it will also help retain physical space within the premises along with reducing the energy consumption.

Further, one more aspect that can be closely related to laundry is sleep. The team at Lavender aims to build on this correlation and enhance the experience and quality of sleep of their guests with crisp and clean sheets, duvets, bed covers & beyond. This is another reason that makes Lavender the right choice.

In an exclusive interaction with Motiverge, Ashutosh Goyal, Director of Finance and Procurement, Ananta Hotels & Resorts as well as Radisson Jaipur City Center shares more insights about his venture, journey so far, motivation and future plans. He is the only founding member of Lavender who was helped by a laundry professional- he has known for the last 8 years. 

Below are the excerpts from the interview:

Tell us more about Lavender. What is the USP of your brand?

In 2019, the Proprietors of Goyal Group of Companies identified a market gap in the commercial laundry- cleaning industry of India. It was the absence of high-tech machinery to facilitate efficient in-house services, especially for the world of hospitality. And so, in the heart of Jaipur city, they have brought to life a state-of the- art laundry and dry-cleaning enterprise – Lavender.

Automation– Lavender has a fully automated laundry plant. It is by the leading firm in the garments and textiles machinery manufacturing industry called, ‘Fabcare’ Gas Fire Technology- A method to reduce the electricity consumption as well as the high risk that comes with operating heavy-duty boilers is the Gas Fire system. At Lavender, the complete plant and its complementary machines are operated by this technology.

Reverse Osmosis– A luxury for linen is to be bathed in water that is treated by the RO system. So, the same way that drinking water is treated for human consumption, laundry water is too. This soft water input increases the life of the fabric being laundered.

Quality Products– If the input is of high-quality, the output is bound to be just as good as well. And so, Lavender not only uses the best equipment but also the best detergent with lavender fragrance and fabric softeners from Diversey. 

Delivery Time– Normally – 24 hours, depending on the load and urgency whereas the guest laundry will be delivered on the same day. Express guest laundry will be delivered by 4 Hours.

Eco Friendly– Our world deserves to be given back what we take from it. It is key to striking an environmental balance. Lavender treats the discharged water through the ETP technology, which allows the reusing of this input in the services.

What factors influenced or motivated you to start this startup? What seeded the idea of startup in this sector?

There is no real quality laundry for small and mid scale hotels in Rajasthan. Hoteliers get some amazing linen for their hotels but due to poor laundry services, their linen spoils fast. Well washed linen makes the guest happy which directly helps improve hotels productivity. 

What were the first few steps during and after the launch of Lavender?

The first thing we did was do a market survey. We found out that there is a demand for a good commercial laundry unit in Jaipur. Moreover, the western world has really promoted the laundry culture in India due to which people are now realizing the importance of laundry. We went to a couple of laundry machine factories and visited a few laundry expos before making the final decision to move ahead. After the set up we faced a major challenge due to Covid-19. A lot of hotels were impacted and because of less bookings we did not get a lot of business. However, on a positive side some hotels realized the importance of sanitization and hygiene and therefore they made a switch from giving their linen to ‘dhobhighats’ to giving it to us. 

Have you raised funds so far?

So far, we have taken a loan to fund the project.

Tell us about your motivation. What keeps you going?

My vision gets me going. I want to take Lavender pan India. Laundry and Dry-cleaning are not small businesses anymore. It should be given priority, especially in these uncertain times. 

How has your journey been so far?

We are now doing laundry for 7 hotels and plan to add 3 more hotels in the next 2 weeks. We are also planning to run the plant in two shifts since we can only wash 125 kgs of linen in one hour for now. Since I am reusing water to launder, I am having issues with the water quality after 5-6 cycles. However, I am in the process to solve this problem by adding an additional filtration unit. 

How big is your team?

Currently, we have a team of 10 members, including Laundry Manager, Administrative head, 5 laundry specialists, a driver, ETP specialist and I. 

Who are your major competitors in India as well as globally? What makes you different from your competition? 

My major competitors in India are ‘dhobhighats’ who have very low prices. It gets difficult for me to convince price sensitive hoteliers the difference between them and us. They use heavy chemicals which are bad for the linen as well as the environment. We on the other hand use biodegradable chemicals. Other than that a lot of state-of-the-art laundry units are popping up all over the world. I always like to learn from them. 

What are the business opportunities in your sector, especially in the APAC region? How do you see market growth and response in the post Covid-19 world?

Whenever a new hotel opens up, they do not need to block their space and have an in-house laundry. They can always outsource it which helps in saving their labour, electricity, water and diesel costs. Even retail segment for laundry has a bright future. People are becoming particular about their clothes and they do not mind investing in good laundry systems. COVID-19 has actually been good for our industry because individuals are becoming concerned about hygiene which is exactly what good laundry is about. 

Being a startup, what do you think is the biggest challenge in India? 

The biggest challenge in India is that people think that laundry is a small business. So whenever I tell people that I run a laundry plant, they look at me from that perspective. 

Please share your views on how our government is doing in supporting startups? 

Laundry has been recently included in ‘essential businesses’ by the government. Moreover, they are giving free PNG gas lines in a lot of areas which helps support the laundry business. Overall, the government is promoting start ups, but I feel more that it is the angel investors who are really helping uplift startup owners. 

Where do you see the startup in coming 3 to 5 years?

I am planning to start a retail segment along with my commercial unit in the next couple of months. Where I will have a shoe, bag and fur cleaning machines. I want to have complete cleaning solutions for organizations as well as households. I plan to add at-least 4 more units in the next 4 years. 

What are your messages for budding entrepreneurs/young generation?

Even if you face criticism, but strongly believe in your idea, go for it! However, before starting anything do proper research and connect with professionals who have experience in similar fields. 

Hope this interview would motivate all the aspiring entrepreneurs. It is a part of our startup profiling feature story/interview series. We are on a mission to put forth the inspirational journey of successful entrepreneurs in order to spread some motivation during these tough times.

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