Gal Rozov admits an ugly truth: He is a lousy laundry-folder. He and his wife have three young children and a lot of laundry to fold. That 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, says. “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 there are folding machines for industrial use — but they’re too big to use at home.
A little market research revealed that folding laundry annoys many people. According to a 2014 Whirlpool consumer survey, 46 percent of homeowners say that they would buy an appliance that can fold clothes.
Using money from his own pocket and investments from friends, six years ago Rozov founded FoldiMate.
The company, based in California, 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 already have registered on the website for more 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,” Rozov says.
FoldiMate Family, expected to retail for $700 to $850, not only will fold the clean laundry items clipped to it by the user, but also can perfume, soften, and de-wrinkle them during the process.
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, Rozov says.
The appliance is approximately the same size as an average dryer or washer, weighs 66 pounds, and is Wi-Fi and internet-enabled.
FoldiMate is bound to face some competition. A Japanese company is developing a laundry-folding robot called Laundroid in partnership with Panasonic and Daiwa House. This product, however, will be as big as a refrigerator and will cost as much as $5,000.