Their mission is to capture a portion of the market from the incumbent corporate self storage companies (Big Yellow, Shurgard, Safestore etc) by offering a good value, neighbourhood based alternative solution. And we like their idea of making better use of private storage options.
This article is part of Your Allies’s entrepreneurship series. We profile entrepreneurs and their business concepts which set out to do good for people or businesses and give our view on their marketing approach. There’s always something to learn from real start-up and business growth experience!
What was your motivation to set up Store Next Door?
“My personal motivation is both from a business perspective (after a career in the media and tech I’ve been working with other startups in a VC firm and have been keen to give it a go myself!) but also from being a big fan and participant of the ‘sharing economy’. Dom Moorhouse, our MD, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor, was inspired by seeing Rachel Botsman speak at the Wired conference last year.”
What makes storenextdoor.com unique?
“The website connects people with space (we call them the Badgers) to people who need storage (known as the Squirrels)! Once a Badger and Squirrel are matched the site provides a legal contract, a secure transaction platform and insurance to cover both parties for the duration of the contract.
We are the only peer-to-peer self storage company currently offering insurance as part of the deal. Having looked at the ‘collaborative consumption’ business landscape very closely we decided that the insurance package would not only differentiate us as a business but be the key to success in the self storage space.”
Your Allies says… addressing a key user concern head-on, in this case the security of stored goods, and offering a solution through insurance no other competitor offers provides a solid differentiator. Of course it’s going to be key to keep a close eye on the market and be prepared for when a competitor emulates what sets you apart now.
Quite the challenge, as they’ll want to avoid a situation where he who scales up fastest takes market leader position. This situation is usually fought out through reaching and converting as many users as fast as possible – often at the expense of profit, requiring increased marketing budgets. Challenges any savvy entrepreneur will have planned for.
What is your business model?
Storenextdoor.com makes money through taking a fixed percentage of the revenue from the storage contract on an ongoing basis.
What marketing strategy have you put in place to reach your business objectives?
“In order to be successful Store Next Door needs to reach critical mass in terms of people who have space, and people that need space in any one area. As much as possible we need to operate on a truly local level as our business model is built (via the internet) on neighbourhood based relationships. Our key messages are: Good value, Local, Safe and Neighbourly. We are combining old school marketing (door knocking, leafleting, local press) with a targeted online and social media campaign. The big challenge, as with all peer to peer companies, is that we need to appeal to two distinct groups people at the same time but with slightly different versions of the same idea – which is why we came up with the Badgers and the Squirrels!”
Your Allies says… we sympathise with this double-whopper challenge of scaling up a user base fast and on a local level. Feet on the street and local communication options plus targeting relevant content at the right people is a pragmatic, integrated and sensible approach. However, engaging local communities requires resource, time and dedication. A strong partner network can help bridge gaps where you don’t have enough resource available, plus their community reach helps multiply yours. We really like the Badgers and Squirrels metaphor since it transports the basic idea of users roles in this peer-to-peer scenario from in a lovely, whimsical way.
What was your biggest challenge in developing storenextdoor.com so far and how did you overcome it?
“Dom, Dan and I have all worked on big projects and launches in our careers and we wanted to set the bar high for ourselves with our own project – so it has been hard work as we are a small team!
Saying, that it’s been a really enjoyable journey to get to launch and exciting to be here.
As a marketer, I’m under no illusion about the challenge of launching a new consumer brand in a relatively new space. Although the ‘sharing economy’ is gaining ground and there are some great companies paving the way, it’s still one that takes a bit of explaining… and this week as I’ve been out on the streets with my leaflets I’ve been doing quite a lot of that!”
Your Allies says… we know just what Store Next Door are talking about from our own experience. The benefit of a small tight-knit team is the unity and power it can bring to the business idea and its execution. We believe wholeheartedly this is a crucial ingredient for a new business to succeed. The fact that she is so close to their target group explaining the concept of Store Next Door is a real advantage (though her feet may tell a different story). They’ll know exactly how to adapt their communication and other elements of their offer to fit user needs.
We wish them the best of success with Store Next Door!
Ready for even more inspiration from real-life business experience? Check out the complete entrepreneurship series!
Photo credit: Ryan McGuire / gratisography.com, published unchanged