SpaceWays: Robert Rebholz
The start-up founder discusses an overseas launch, his high demand service and how the urge to be his own boss mean't a 'normal' job was never possible
Name: Robert Rebholz
Company name: SpaceWays
Location: Greater London
Number of Employees: 20
Date launched: 03.06.14
Tell us what your business does:
SpaceWays provides an online on-demand storage service. It is flexible and works around you. You don’t need a car to drive your items to the storage facility or even leave your house for that matter. All you need to do is let us know what you want to store and we deliver storage containers to your doorstep for free. When you have finished packing the boxes we will collect them and store them in our secure storage facility for £6 a month per box. We can also store larger items like bikes and skis. When you want your boxes back, let us know via the website and your boxes will be redelivered in 48 hours.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I lived in Los Angeles, Paris and London and the main problem I always faced was the lack of space and inconvenient solutions to store my items. With David Fuchs and Martin Twellmeyer, our co-founders, we started talking about the idea for a flexible space solution. As we talked about the problem and our idea, I knew immediately that we had the chance to make life easier for people around the world.
How did you know there was a market for it?
In a metropolitan city, space is scarce and comes at a premium. This coupled with rising storage prices and an ever more mobile population, there is definitely a market and a real need for SpaceWays. People are also becoming more flexible as they travel for work or pleasure and as a result need somewhere to store their belongings in the interim. Plus no one wants to throw away their personal belongings, their memories or just things they need once a year – and this is where we comes in.
What were you doing before starting up?
I used to be a management consultant but I always had a vision of launching my own company and so I made it happen. Three years ago I left my job to start my first e-commerce company.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
The simple answer is yes! If you have the urge to be your own boss then a ‘normal’ job is no longer possible.
How did you raise the money?
With our partner Rocket Internet, a leading global online platform. They back us in lots of fields, from initial funding to expertise and even manpower. For us that means we can offer our customers the best possible service while also thinking ahead and planning our long term growth, such as expanding into new markets.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Our business model is based on convenience and efficiency. We deliver as many boxes as you need and collect them at a time that suits you. We are able to undercut big storage companies as you only pay for the storage you need and we store your boxes and over-sized items in a secure location a few miles outside of London where rental rates are lower.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Making the dream a reality. Our goal was always to provide the most reliable, fastest and most flexible service. When a customer for example wants their box with their winter wardrobe in it we deliver the right box, within 48 hours. To deal with the need for amazing customer service, we set up very sophisticated processes and created our own IT infrastructure to support this so we bring our boxes to your doorstep the fastest way possible.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Our first big breakthrough was setting up a great team, and getting operations up and running in London after just eight weeks. We’re also really proud that we have launched in our second city, Paris, just a few weeks ago. There is high demand for our service, which really excites us. Paris property prices increased by 114% since 2000, while salaries increased by only 10%, making space increasingly rare and valuable.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Have a clear vision where you want to go and welcome uncertainty. For a lot of people it’s tough not having a set path for the future but that’s what entrepreneurship is all about. As an entrepreneur you need to accept that things will not always go the way you planned, while keeping your goal in mind and doing everything you can to achieve it.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Travelling from London to my hometown in Munich and getting ready for skiing in an hour – having just ordered my SpaceWays stored skis when I arrive at the airport.