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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Get to know a Toronto startup: Boxit

boxitIf you're one of a growing number of people who has sacrificed space for the convenience of living in a shoebox-sized condo in the heart of downtown, this startup might just change your life. At the very least, it will de-clutter it.

Officially launching this week, Boxit is a self-storage solution catered to Torontonians short on space. Boxit will pick up items from your home or business and store them for $7 per month per box. When you need to retrieve your items, they'll simply deliver them to you within 24 hours. Currently available as a web app, with a mobile app on the way, Boxit is an affordable, quick and convenient take on storage.

Founders Gordie Best and Lauren Long came up with the idea in June while part of The Next 36, a Toronto-based entrepreneurial leadership initiative. The program chooses 36 promising undergrads from across Canada with big entrepreneurship potential, then challenges them to build a tech business for the mobile or tablet market. During most of the program the pair worked on a completely different business idea, but after running a pilot program, they realized that their business model wasn't going to work. With only two months left in the program, they came up with Boxit and were rewarded for their change of heart: the idea won the program's Outstanding Venture Prize.

With two young founders that take customer experience very seriously (like showing up to pick up your delivery in a polished dress shirt), Boxit is one Toronto startup to watch.

What was the inspiration behind Boxit?

The big idea behind Boxit was, what if we could provide the magic of cloud storage to real stuff? We looked at how Dropbox completely transformed the way people interact with files, collaborate with each other and access files on different devices. We wanted to do the same with Boxit, allowing customers to access their stuff on-demand, and in our long-term vision, share them with friends.

How does Boxit generate revenue?

We charge $7/month for each plastic box and $10/month for each wardrobe box (which has a rod to hang clothes in it). We provide the boxes and pick up packed boxes free of charge. We charge a delivery fee of $15 plus $2 per box when a customer wants to retrieve their items.

Who do you consider your competitors in this space?

No one in Toronto is doing self-storage quite like us. Condo storage lockers are becoming rare in newer buildings and if they're available they can cost up to $150/month to rent. Traditional self-storage is inconvenient since it requires travel to the facilities to store and retrieve belongings. Moreover, even the smallest units can cost around $70-$90/month. Similar services, such as Makespace and Boxbee have recently launched in cities like New York and San Francisco, where space is also at a premium.

Boxit landed its first paying customer within the first week of being founded. Why do you think your idea caught on so quickly?

Boxit is affordable, convenient and uses technology to provide a great customer experience. For someone that doesn't have enough stuff to fill a whole storage unit, our storage rates of $7/month saves them money. Our customers also never have to leave their home. We take care of it all. Not only does visiting a storage locker cost you time, it's also not always pleasant. Who likes digging through a messy locker filled with clutter?

Have your customers found any interesting uses for Boxit?

It's really incredible to see the variety of ways they've been using our service. One customer, a musician, was storing 66 boxes of sheet music with us. One day, he had a last minute request for performing at a concert. Thanks to our cataloging system, we were able to deliver back the box with the exact sheet music he needed in time for his big stage appearance.

One situation we often see is couples that, after moving in together, realize they don't have enough room for all their stuff. So we like to think that Boxit is also saving a lot of relationships!

What's coming up next for Boxit?

We'll soon be launching our mobile app, which will give customers the ability share stored items with friends or colleagues without having to leave their house. We also have just entered into a partnership with a leading storage company. It's great to see that our product is being welcomed by bigger players in the marketplace, since they can see how our approach can help increase customer satisfaction.

by Anna Starasts via blogTO

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