Investing with Purpose: Scaling sustainably with Oxwash
What happens when an ex-Nasa scientist and an engineer can’t find a good laundrette? They re-engineer the entire laundry process from the ground up!
Oxwash is one of my favourite sustainable start-ups and a business we’re proud to invest in. Co-founder Kyle Grant is an ex-Nasa scientist who started the business while doing his PhD. Frustrated by a lack of good eco-friendly laundry facilities, he partnered with Oxford engineer Tom de Wilton and decided to build their own carbon-neutral laundry business! Four years down the line, Oxwash has raised over £4.8 million in investment; completed Virgin StartUp’s Collective Impact programme; and is now fully operational in London, Oxford and Cambridge.
The way the team uses innovation to tackle every element of the industry’s sustainability issues is the main reason I invested in Oxwash. From filtering microfibre plastics, to reducing water usage, avoiding toxic chemicals, and delivering laundry on zero-emission bikes (so fun to ride!) – Oxwash’s approach truly is disrupting the industry for good. As part of my Investing with Purpose series, I took a tour through their London ‘lagoon’ to see how the magic happens and to learn more about their start-up story…
It was so amazing to hear about Oxwash’s journey and see just how much the company has grown. It shows how much appetite there is from consumers and investors alike to support sustainable and purpose-driven businesses. Despite scaling so quickly, the team are not prepared to compromise on their responsibility to the environment. Given that plastic particles washed off clothing products contribute up to 35% of the primary plastic that is polluting our oceans, and eveyr laod of washing releases about nine million microfibers into wastewater treatment plants - Oxwash’s environmental commitment means a lot.
It’s also inspiring to see how the team is collaborating with other start-ups to tackle other issues in the industry. Oxwash is supporting the fashion rental revolution by partnering with Hurr Collective, a service where customers can rent out designer dresses online. Given that circular business models — including rental, resale, recycling and repair — could reduce the fashion industry’s carbon emissions by 347 million tonnes in 2030, it’s brilliant to see Oxwash involved with other areas of the fashion value cycle. This is what drives long-term and meaningful change. I also had a lot of fun trying on their beautiful dresses when I visited the lagoon!
Thank you so much to Kyle, Tom and the entire Oxwash team for showing me the ropes, and for putting a cleaner spin on laundry! After winning multiple sustainability awards; expanding operations across the UK; and joining Virgin Management and Virgin StartUp in supporting the Better Business Act, I’m so excited for what will come next.