The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday May 16th

Students create waterless car wash

A new car washing service headed by UNC students is coming to University Place this fall.

Waterless Buddy’s aims to combine innovation and environmentally friendly practices and hopes to create jobs for UNC students in the future. The business uses a waterless car wash product that contains a special wash-wax sealant formula that allows employees — or “Buddies” — to remove dirt with a microfiber towel.

“Waterless Buddy’s is the future of car washing. As water becomes more and more scarce, our business and other busi- nesses that depend on water will have to change and adapt,” said Austin Helms, a student at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and founder of Waterless Buddy’s.

“Luckily, we have a head start.”

To get a car wash, customers can find a Waterless Buddy’s employee in the parking lot
of University Place and tell them where they parked. The Waterless Buddy’s team would then detail customers’ cars.

“Our current model has us only giving exterior details, but we hope to move into a full detail in the future,” Helms said.

“We also have bigger ideas that involve technology that will allow customers to get their cars washed anywhere at any time by anybody. You could say an Uber meets car-washing.”

Responses to the business’ test run last fall were positive, said Beverly Carr, a spokeswoman for University Place.

“It is a great service to offer for the shoppers who can get their cars washed as they shop, dine, work out, visit our Aveda salon or see a movie,” Carr said.

Josiah Graham, a UNC senior who has his car with him on campus, said he thinks students will be interested in the new car washing service.

“I know a lot of students love to make sure their cars look spick-and-span when they ride down Franklin Street.”

While he is interested in trying out the new business himself, Graham said he tends to wash his own car unless it’s cheaper, cleaner and quicker to hire a service.

“Our target customer base is people who have additional income, but since our service is relatively cheap and provides the utmost convenience to the customer, it could be anyone with a car,” Helms said.

He said he hopes to employ students in the long run.

“We want to hire high school and college students because of the desire to give back to the communities that we surround ourselves with,” Helms said. “We are also in talks with the Rams Club about washing fans’ cars before, during and after football games, which could create jobs for students on campus.”

Helms said he started washing cars at a young age.

“At age 12, I started my first car washing business: ‘Austin’s Amazin’ Car Wash.’ It helped fuel my activities in high school,” he said.

During a trip to London in 2014, he and his roommate saw a car wash service that was provided to customers while they shop, which sparked their interest. He later pitched the idea to his partner, Randy Short, another UNC student.

“Literally a dorm room dream to a reality. The waterless solution literally fell in our lap during an entrepreneurship class in the business school, and it was a perfect fit for our model,” Helms said.

Helms said he hopes his business will become recognizable by everyone.

“Our goal is that when you think car wash, you see a bright yellow T-shirt walking your way, and it’s a Buddy," he said. "Not just a guy to wash your car but a company that truly cares about the community and the customer.”

city@dailytarheel.com

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