After introducing its flagship product at the start of this year, Milwaukee-based Marathon Machines, Inc. is launching a new model of its combined washing machine and dryer.
Marathon Machines founder and CEO Glenn Reid created the combined washing machine and dryer, which can provide data to its users via a smartphone app. The company’s flagship model is called Model X. Reid, a past director of engineering for Apple Computer who spearheaded the creation of iMovie 1.0, announced this week that a new version of his product called Model M has hit the market.
“Laundry is, I think, a contentious resource. You sort of fight over it a bit, even with your own family. Knowing the state your machine is in makes a lot more sense for a washing machine than it does almost anything else,” Reid said.
Model M capitalizes on the shared laundry experience in places like dorms, apartments and other multi-family buildings.
Reid believes property owners could make use of having more data about their laundry machines, such as how often a machine is being used or what kind of repairs may need to be done. The main difference between Model X and Model M is the kind of software used and who can access what data.
With Model M, landlords can do tasks unique to that machine such as granting permission to a repair person to complete work or removing a resident who has moved out from the machine’s memory. Some machine preferences can also be locked, so residents can’t change settings. The target market for Model M machines will primarily be multi-family builders in the Milwaukee area at first, with plans to expand into more locations. Marathon is simultaneously launching Laundry Network, a cloud-based software for remote laundry management.
Marathon Machines is currently selling its flagship Model X direct to consumers online, but the company is working with two distributors – one on the West Coast and one locally – to get its machines in stores. Those distributors are expected to go live in the next few months.
Model X machines have only been available for the last few months and Reid said the number of units sold is in the hundreds. The price point for a Model X machine is typically $2,650 with competing models from companies including LG and Whirlpool costing upwards of $2,800.
Disrupting the laundry industry
The journey to getting Model X to market this year started back in 2016. While glancing through a magazine one day, Reid spotted an ad for a washer and dryer. He couldn’t tell the difference between the two.
“I started obsessing about that and realizing it didn’t need to be that way,” Reid said.
He quickly started Marathon Machines in 2016, moving to Milwaukee in 2019 after visiting the city and looking at real estate ads, which showed him how much cheaper space is here than in Silicon Valley. The company, located at 1825 W. St. Paul Ave., currently has 10 employees, with five of those positions being full time.
“It (Milwaukee) is a manufacturing corridor and it’s full of smart people and money. Everything is here except appetite for risk – no one wants to do anything even slightly risky. I thought, I can bring that with me,” Reid said.
It took about three years before the company had a prototype and another two years of tweaking the machine until Model X was ready for the market. A $2.7 million seed round completed in late 2020, shown in an SEC filing, also helped complete the launch of Model X.
Some larger appliance companies including Whirlpool, LG and Samsung have tested out “smart” washing machines that have wifi chips, but Reid said his company’s machines provide substantially more data to users since the machines have been entirely re-engineered to support use of the internet.
While Reid is not a believer in the smart home, he is a believer in making the everyday task of doing laundry less of a chore for the average person. His mantra is it's time for the Internet of Things to actually do something useful and he thinks Marathon Machines can be the disruptor of the $14 billion domestic washing machine and dryer industry.
“I can’t say anybody gets excited about laundry but if you make it less of a hassle, it really grows on you,” Reid said.