Upsteam is on a mission to make traditional car washes obsolete by offering an app-based service that brings its crew of car washers to the customer. Established in 2017 in Estonia and setting up operations in Finland in 2019, the startup offers the required digital infrastructure, tools and training for anyone wanting to work as a mobile car washer.
“The car wash industry hasn’t changed in decades,” Jarno Lehtimäki, country manager of Finland at Upsteam told STT. “So far you’ve had to look for a car wash, join the queue and wait for the duration of the service,” he added.
Upsteam’s Finnish branch has patented and is the product owner of its washing solution, which uses a minimal amount of water and instead relies on a biodegradable detergent and dirt-repellent wax to get the job done.
A clean drop in the ocean
The solution has helped the startup already serve 9 000 customers over 40 000 times in three European capitals, saving 12 million litres of clean water. However, it is still only a small drop in the pool of 420 billion litres of drinkable water consumed annually by the global car washing industry.
“A regular car wash takes 200–250 litres of drinkable water, whereas our solution takes one to four litres, depending a bit on the season and the car,” Lehtimäki explained to Good News from Finland. “We’re also developing our winter washing solution and are currently able to wash in temperatures as low as -15 Celsius.”
The eco-friendly solution has secured a total of 1.8 million euros in crowdfunding campaigns and through angel investors. After starting in the B2B markets, Upsteam is now making a big push for consumer markets, which already account for 40 per cent of the company’s businesses, while looking to new frontiers in the B2B markets.
“We’ve had a strong start on the consumer side, which is expanding at a breakneck speed. In the near future, we’re also looking to expand our service offering towards a more comprehensive upkeep, for example with businesses that operate large fleets of cars.”