Crain's New York

This eco-friendly dry-cleaning startup is pedaling a new idea

By Peter D'Amato

Two low-slung black metal tricycles wait for loads of freshly dry-cleaned laundry outside NextCleaners on East 12th Street. A fleet of 30 electric bicycles—inspired by European delivery services, and costing about $5,000 apiece—are one way former Morgan Stanley and software-startup exec Kam Saifi, 55, plans to keep his dry-cleaning delivery service environmentally friendly.

As on-demand services deliver everything from groceries to prescription drugs, companies like Saifi’s are shunning vans in favor of freight tricycles, which are ideal for “last mile” delivery of goods. Apart from sparing the air, the trikes can navigate Manhattan’s gridlocked streets and slip into parking spaces better than trucks and vans. But adoption in the city has been slow. Six cargo companies operate in New York, including Revolution Rickshaws, which leases its trikes to local outfits City Bakery and City Harvest.

Another is NextCleaner’s cargo-trike supplier, MetroSpeedy, a startup that counts Saifi as an investor and is gearing up to make its delivery services widely available.

A version of this article appears in the December 7, 2015, print issue of Crain's New York Business as "Pedaling a new idea".

Crain's New York Next Cleaners Speedy