by Geneve Lau
photography courtesy of Geneve Lau
The average college student might find themselves visiting a coffee shop or a library after class. Austin Negron (CGS ’19, ENG ’21) balances his studies and social life as a computer engineering student and member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity with running his startup business, WashMe!, with his best friend, Cole Hechtman (CGS ’19, CAS ’21).
Originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Negron started his first semester at BU in January 2018, as a part of the CGS Boston-London program. As soon as he got to campus he knew he wanted to be more involved, so he visited the BUild Lab.
It may come as a surprise to some that Hechtman and Negron didn’t know each other prior to coming to BU. Although they are from opposite sides of the country, they clicked instantly when they met.
“We try not to finish each other’s sentences,” Negron joked. The two are living together for the second year in a row and have plans to live together next year as well.
After joining the group Startup BU and attending meetings, he latched onto a comment from a fellow peer: “It would be cool if someone could do our laundry.” Negron and Hechtman decided to enter a startup competition with this newfound idea. “They told us we had to have four people, and we kind of wanted to keep it to ourselves,” he admitted. However, the duo quickly befriended Kyle Mortimer (CAS ’21) and Thomas Rigal (QST ’21), and the group pitched their idea together.
“I never expected to take it super far, it was just something to put on the resume,” Negron added. But, when he and Hechtman decided they wanted to take it up a notch, they reached out to Mortimer and Rigal, who appreciated the thought, but both had other projects they were working on.
Since both Negron and Hechtman are well connected in the BU world, expanding with people they knew wouldn’t turn out to be a problem.
“We have 10–12 people now, and our general hours are posted on our website, but they aren’t strict at all, and everyone just works based on who is available at what time,” he explained.
The WashMe! name has spread through word of mouth, and by adding more people to the team, they are able to cover a larger area on campus, including residential campuses in East Campus. When the brand first started out, they only serviced the West Campus residences.
“We try our best,” Negron said. “We typically pick up and return laundry within 24 hours.”
Incorporating WashMe! into his BU life was easy. A part of the business that weren’t as easy though, was marketing for the site. Negron admits that he’s not the greatest at social media. “It’s just hard to know when to post and having enough content to post consistently,” he said.
Having a larger social media presence is just one of the future goals of WashMe! Negron mentions partnerships with other BU student entrepreneurs such as Stoovy Snacks and Toasty Boys.
In the future, Negron could see WashMe! expanding to other universities. He mentioned that some students have already reached out demonstrating interest in doing so.
In the future, you might consider skipping laundry one week (or a few), and letting someone else handle it! Check out WashMe! on Instagram at @washme_bu!