SpaceBox brings on-demand storage to SA

By Tom Jackson

SpaceBox is bringing the on-demand storage model perfected in cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong to South Africa, allowing customers to arrange storage of items online.

Launched in June last year, SpaceBox is a valet-style on demand storage service. Users can create an online inventory of items, which they store with the startup. The platform allows the user to request any stored item to be delivered at a desired place and time within 24 hours.

To facilitate storage and delivery, SpaceBox has partnered with storage company XtraSpace.

“SpaceBox provide storage to our customers at a much more affordable rate than what customers would otherwise pay at another self-storage facility,” chief executive officer (CEO) Hjalmar Venter told Disrupt Africa.

“Customers only pay for the space they use. Included in the monthly storage rental cost is the initial delivery and pickup costs, our online platform and even the rental of our high quality security containers should you not have a box of your own. It’s clear, flexible and simple.”

The startup was founded after Venter identified an increasing demand for a service-driven but technology-powered storage offering.

“The inevitable evolution of the storage business in the 21st century meant it would go online. The younger generation ‘live’ online. They’re not afraid of e-commerce. This is an industry that will grow with this generation,” he said.

SpaceBox was initially launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and recently also rolled out in Durban. Venter said the startup has plans to expand further afield.

“This valet-styled storage service is proving to be a success across the world in cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong, to name a few,” he said. “International expansion should therefore be a goal, and the opportunities in neighbouring countries seem to be a logical next step.”

The company works on a flexible, month-to-month storage rental model, charging ZAR99 (US$7) per box, per month.

“Taking into account our world-class online platform, investments in safety and security, warehousing and on-demand distribution included, it’s very affordable,” Venter said, adding that registered users will also be eligible for promotions and giveaways.

He believes South African startups face a “tough culture”, and need to be entrepreneurial in spirit to keep going and believe in what they are doing.

“And it’s tricky to sell a service that few people even know exists. My goal is really to educate the market and show them how we can improve their lives,” he said.

With this in mind, SpaceBox has been testing out a number of marketing avenues.

“We’re testing everything. If it doesn’t work – we try something else! The science comes once you’ve performed the art. The science is in the measurement. And we’re still creating awareness right now,” Venter said.

SpaceBox uses both digital and offline marketing, with pamphlets and flyer drops part of its direct marketing strategy.

“I do believe that email marketing facilitates better engagement as a non-disruptive form of communication. We are making use of Google AdWords and Google banner advertising is also being tested,” Venter said.

“A social media presence is crucial to building awareness and facilitating engagement with consumers since SpaceBox is an online service and we need to be where our customers are – online. It’s still early days.”

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