At the end of October, Chicago became the first new home for the unique “storage on-demand” German-based storage company SpaceWays. The new on-demand full storage service is supported by Rocket Internet, the world’s largest internet incubator which has already built many successful Internet companies worldwide including Zalando, Groupon International and HelloFresh. SpaceWays three co-founders, David Fuchs, Rob Rebholz and Martin Twellmeyer, are excited to offer Chicago and its surrounding areas their new flexible alternative to traditional self storage that includes professional drivers, reliable customer service and with the help of technology the safe handling and storage of customers valued property. Chicago is just the first stop on their business plan; they intend to continued expansion across North America through the rest of 2014 and in to the new year.
With the help of Derek Serafin from Motion PR the following email interview was conducted with SpaceWays co-founder Rob Rebholz.
Is this your first venture in the United States?
No, with my last company we actually had an office in the US (in Los Angeles), which has a great and growing startup scene as well – just like Chicago.
How long have you been in the storage business?
We launched in London in July and based on our success in the UK quickly expanded to Paris. But we always wanted to go to the US, which has the world’s largest self storage market (24bn) – which we think is ripe for disruption. I have lived in the US for four years and am personally very excited to be back!
What made you decide to set up in Illinois and the Chicago area first?
There’s a lot of reasons, which all boil down to the fact that Chicago has a very dense inner city, population especially downtown and is growing a lot. There’s an under-supply of self storage players. Before launching we talked to a lot of Chicagoans and they were all really excited by SpaceWays – so we decided to bring Chicago its first on-demand storage service.
In what way does SpaceWays differ from storage companies already here, like PODS?
Existing players mostly don’t offer storage by the box but you have to get a big container or room. So we offer better flexibility. Compared to traditional self storage players, we offer a great pickup service that takes the hassle out of self storage.
How many jobs are created?
So far, 30 employees and we’re hiring heavily. We create jobs not only via our pickup service but also in the warehouse we use. Next to that, we’re currently hiring people for marketing and business development roles. As opposed to self storage companies we’re a service business that relies on great people that do the work for our customers. We can do all that competitively by saving costs on real estate, since our warehouses don’t have to be in expensive inner city locations that are as easy to reach.
Will it be expensive for people to store their items with SpaceWays?
Not at all – traditional self storage facilities are located within city limits to be close to customers, who then have to bring their stuff to those warehouses. In our case, we use slightly more remote warehouses and thus have significant real estate cost savings. We then reinvest that money into technology and our pickup and delivery service. This enables us to have a more convenient and flexible offering while at the same time being very cost-competitive and affordable. You also have to take into account that when you use traditional self storage, you don’t only waste time but transportation usually isn’t cheap either.
What type of storage system do you use and what assurances do you provide that stored property will be safe?
Safety is our top priority and we treat all items that we store like they were our own. We’ve worked hard to ensure we have the appropriate measures in place so you have nothing to worry about when using our service.
Here’s a few highlights:
24/7/365 closed circuit, monitored surveillance system including infrared motion detectors and door contacts
24/7/365 monitored fire detection system that includes sprinkler pipes, sprinkler heads, control panels and fire pump
Security Alarm System tied directly to the police and cameras
Monitored door policy to control unauthorized access
We also keep extensive insurance to cover all eventualities that may arise when running a storage business
SpaceWays offers delivery, free pickup service, storage with large heavy-duty boxes and the return of boxes/bulky items with just a few clicks.