During 2020, grocery and meal delivery on gig platforms soared, according to a February study on the post-pandemic economy by McKinsey Global Institute. The report also showed that amid layoffs, more than half of Uber drivers surveyed said driving had become the biggest or at least a significant source of income.
Joy Poole, a 38-year-old Middle River resident, started SudShare gig work last year after her hours at Middle River Aerostructure Systems were reduced at the start of the pandemic. She lost not only regular hours but also the overtime she counted on, and needed the extra income. Now she works at the plant by night, installing parts for Boeing 747 aircraft engines, and washes clothes for customers at home by day.
Poole’s sister told her about SudShare, and it appealed to her because she always has enjoyed doing laundry for herself and her son and daughter.
“It’s like a hobby, almost,” she said. “Once my hours picked up at work, I couldn’t stop. I became used to it and had gained relationships with customers.”
The app lets customers request particular “Sudsters” and rate them. Poole said she gets a lot of requests and accepts about two jobs per day, which vary in load size. Poole said she has customers of all ages, families, single people and even an Airbnb business.
“I definitely think it’s a good idea,” said Marie Yeh, an associate professor of marketing at Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management. “I think it can work for the right consumer. There are going to be some consumers who aren’t going to like that idea of people touching your clothes.”
But she can see it appealing to others, such as busy professionals who rely on shared laundry facilities or laundromats. A key, she believes, will be finding ways to retain enough reliable contractors to meet demand.
Nachshon Fertel, one of a set of 20-year-old triplets among the family’s five children, all home-schooled through eighth grade by their mom, was finishing 10th grade when his mother approached him with her laundry idea. His father saw a business opportunity and funded it.
“I’ve always looked for ways to help my parents, and I hated doing laundry,” said Nachshon Fertel, who taught himself to build mobile apps with the help of Google and wanted to “help my parents and help the world.”
He spent about a year building a test version of the app, then another year perfecting the live version, all while attending a Jewish boarding high school with his triplet brother Moshe Fertel in Norfolk, Virginia.