Gal Rozov admits an ugly truth: He is a lousy laundry-folder. With three young children, he and his wife have a lot of laundry to fold and that means the odious task falls on her.
“I’m the worst folder ever. If there was an award for bad folders, I would win it every day,” Rozov, 37, tells ISRAEL21c.
“So we started thinking about a machine that would help. We have a washer, dryer, dishwasher, even a Roomba, but not anything that can help fold laundry.”
Using his background in product management, entrepreneurship and technology, Rozov researched the field and found that folding machines exist for industrial use but not on a home scale.
A little market research revealed that folding laundry is a pain point for many people. According to a 2014 Whirlpool consumer survey, 46 percent of homeowners say they would buy an appliance that can fold clothes.
Using money from his own pocket and investments from friends, the Israeli citizen founded FoldiMate in California six years ago.
The company is getting a lot of press for its still-in-progress robotic home laundry-folding system, FoldiMate Family. All research and development is done in Israel, Rozov’s home country.
“We’re looking to close a round of funding to bring the product to market,” says Rozov. He and his partners, Debbie Cohen-Abravanel and Alon Naim, hope to start accepting pre-orders next year. More than 100,000 people have already registered on the website for further information.
“We are finalizing the prototype and a manufacturing plan, and we are in negotiations with major appliance manufacturers around the world. We are planning to partner with one of them,” says Rozov.
FoldiMate Family, expected to retail for $700 to $850, will not only fold the clean laundry items clipped to it by the user, but also perfume, soften and de-wrinkle them during the process with the optional addition of treatment capsules.
The machine can handle 10 to 30 items at a time depending on their size, but cannot fold large items like linens or small items like underwear or socks.
A neat, professional-looking fold is achieved in about three seconds, says Rozov.
The appliance is approximately the same size as an average dryer or washer, weighs 66 pounds (30kg) and is Wi-Fi and Internet enabled.
FoldiMate is bound to face some competition. A Japanese company, for example, is developing a laundry-folding robot called Laundroid in partnership with Panasonic and Daiwa House, but this product will be size of a refrigerator and will cost as much as $5,000.
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