From the December 2000 issue of Startups

Payam Zamani does not take dry cleaning lightly. "Nothing used to upset me more when I was traveling on business than to pick up my dry cleaning and find that there were missing buttons, a double crease in my pants, or my shirt was over-starched," recalls the 29-year-old Pleasanton, California, entrepreneur.

Zamani was so disappointed, he decided to start PurpleTie.com, where customers can log on 24/7 and arrange for one of Zamani's 150 delivery vans to pick up and drop off dry cleaning at a pre-arranged time. PurpleTie, which uses environmentally friendly cleaning agents, performs all its services at regional facilities, which enhances efficiency and consistency, according to Zamani. The business will also offer bulk laundry services and shoe shines.

Revamping an entire industry is an expensive endeavor. Zamani, who raised $80 million to fund his previous business, Autoweb.com, raised an undisclosed amount to open the first PurpleTie processing center in the San Francisco Bay area this summer. Zamani, who anticipates that PurpleTie will capture 7 percent of the Bay area dry-cleaning market within six years, plans to roll out the concept in 24 other major U.S. markets within three years. "We see ourselves as a fashion-related industry," Zamani says. "We will return your clothes to you looking as new as possible, and we'll keep you looking good."


Pamela Rohland, a Bernville, Pennsylvania, writer who finds mysterious spots on her clothes, believes a good dry cleaner is more valuable than a sack of pearls.