As they began their drive from Washington to Boston on a cold January day in 1991. Chris Hackett and Val Rayzman felt that time was running out. lt had been a year since they'd begun trying to build a chain of upscale drycleaners. They had become industry experts-the next day tlley were to give a presentation to a drycleaning.convention. But hadn't yet bought a single store and were running out of money. They had to do something soon: start or buy a store, or abandon their dryc\eaning pursuit altogether,
Chris and VaJ were classmates in the MBA program at Harvard Business School. Val had spent four years as an investment banker in New York. and Chris had sold capital equipment in Cincinnati for his family's company. The two friends described how they came to be interested in the drycleaning industry.
We were determined not to go back 10 our former careers, and the on-campus recl1liting choices seemed unsatisfactory. We both wanted to run our own busines~. but neither of us had any idea what to do after graduation. One fall evening. while batting around differenl business ideas, Val brought up drycleaning. "Look Chris, here is an industry that is fragmented, undifferentiated. has low entry barriers. and is something that people use aU the time. Why can't we do what others did to supermarkets, pizza parlors, and office supply stores?" The thought of transforming a sleepy industry with unappealing stores and poor service was
Valery Rayzman. MBA '90, and Christopher J. Hackett, MBA '90, prepared tbis case under the supervision of Professor Amnr Bhide as the basis for class discussion. Copyright © 1992 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Harvard Business School Case 9·392-077.
Evaluating Opporlunity aM Developing the Business Concept
exciting. As a first step, we arranged to do a field study in service management [Il student research project) in the spring tenn with the