When Nico Prestipino and Jack Twombly entered the home of a customer, the floor was so sticky that it was hard to lift their feet. Balloons and posters were everywhere along the wall. Red solo cups and beer cans littered the ground.
“It just smelled like a mixture of beer and throw up,” junior business management major Prestipino said of the apartment they had to clean.
This description might be some people’s worst nightmare when it comes to the aftermath of a party. To junior communications studies majors Twombly and Prestipino, that nightmare is the inspiration for their latest plan to turn a need in the community into a new business venture.
Dirty Dukes JMU was started by Prestipino. It officially launched this semester.
“On a Saturday morning, say you just threw a party,” Prestipino said, “It’s 10 o’clock; you come out, the floors are sticky, there’s some sort of stink going on — you don’t want to deal with that. We’ll come in and take care of that the same day.”
In addition to Dirty Dukes, Prestipino started a beer pong table company last year. He wants to use the experience he gains from starting a business and apply it to his life after college.
“I’m not a clean freak or anything,” Prestipino said. “I wasn’t too experienced with cleaning before this, but really, what I like to do is get into a market — maybe even something I don’t know much about — and figure out how to sell it to people.”
He wanted to figure out a way to keep his living space cleaner after his freshman year. Once he lived off campus and realized the difficulties of having roommates and seeing the dishes pile up in the kitchen, he decided to start the business.
“I figured, if I’m having this problem, a lot of other people are as well,” Prestipino said.
So far, they’ve relied mostly on word of mouth but are looking for ways to expand their brand. They’re in the process of building a website and making a video for the business. They’ve served about 10 clients already and have advertised on Instagram.
“People don’t want to spend time cleaning their place,” Twombly said. “We’re doing, like, vacuuming, mopping, dusting, picking up trash, washing dishes — just your overall clean.”
Their end goal is to obtain a copyright and send this organization out as a model to other universities. They plan on creating a presentation to say how they made it work and giving it to other students to franchise and receive royalties.
“We wanted to, kind of, formulate a process and be effective with how we cleaned the house and then teach that to the people who are going to come in once we have too much demand,” Prestipino said.
Scott Greenlaw, a junior hospitality management major, was one of Dirty Dukes’ first clients. Greenlaw said that all college students know that cleaning is a hassle.
“Me and my roommates have been super busy with school,” Greenlaw said. “We have time to keep stuff kind of tidy, but we don’t really have time to clean. These guys — they do it all.”
Trenton Heard, a senior sociology major, heard about this business from his roommates. He paid $15 to get the floor of his apartment mopped and cleaned in Aspen Heights.
“Everything’s easier when you don’t have to do it yourself,” Heard said.
Individuals can choose various packages from Dirty Dukes. They clean bathrooms for $15 and floors or bedrooms for $20. For apartments, $50 takes care of vacuuming, mopping, taking out the trash, doing the dishes and picking garbage up. $60 is the same operation but for townhouses. For a house, they’ll normally inspect it first and then determine a price based on how much time and resources they think it’ll take. They also clean shoes for $15 and have numerous packages ranging from $15-$60 for cars.
“We have returning customers already,” Twombly said. “People are telling us, ‘We’re going to come back and refer you to people.’ It’s just been all positive vibes so far.”
Prestipino and Twombly employ JMU students and pay $2.75 above the minimum wage. They said they enjoy representing themselves as members of the JMU community and helping out other Dukes.
“It’s fun to throw the party, but then to clean up everything afterwards,” Greenlaw said.
“You can split the price with your roommates — everyone throw, what, five, 10 bucks, and you can clean your whole house. It’s like a blessing that was dropped in front of all JMU students.”
Contact Matthew Sasser at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.