When Kristoph Matthews was growing up, he lived in a number of crowded cities including Tokyo and Bangkok. His family moved 22 times across four continents and packing was always a pain.
So it isn’t surprising that Matthews now runs a startup that helps people organise their lives and their tiny apartments, Boxbee.
Boxbee is a storage logistics startup that has raised $US1.5 million from a number of angel investors. One of its investors, Jason Calacanis, thinks it will one day be a multi-billion-dollar company like Uber, another logistics company. Matthews is the sole founder of Boxbee and this is his first venture-backed startup.
The company launched in 2012 while Matthews was still working in the semiconductor industry. He tested the concept with a minimum viable product, posting flyers and Google ads about his service. When orders came in, he’d rent a van and drop off cardboard boxes, charging $US12 a pop. Eventually Matthews joined an incubator, AngelPad, and incorporated Boxbee.
Here’s how Boxbee works:
- Select how many empty boxes you need on the website. Each box costs $US7.50 per month to store.
- Tell Boxbee what day and time you’d like the empty boxes delivered to your home.
- Select a day and time for Boxbee to pick up your full boxes. Take photos of your belongings so you can tag boxes and remember which stuff was placed where.
- Boxbee’s truck pulls up, packs up your stuff, and hauls it off to a secure warehouse where thousands of other Boxbee boxes are stored.
- Tell Boxbee when you want your things returned. Boxbee can get your boxes back to you within a few hours.
Boxbee does a number of things to run its business securely and efficiently. First, its boxes are the same size so they can be stacked in neat rows without wasting warehouse space. Eventually, Boxbee will let people store odd-shaped items too but for now its boxes are all 24×12.
Boxbee is also a vertically integrated business. Since it controls everything from orders to pick-ups to storage space, it’s able to get belongings too and fro quickly. Boxbee also knows when items need to be returned and stacks boxes accordingly. That way no needed item is ever out of reach.
“Nothing we do is by chance,” says Matthews, who notes that the company uses triple redundancy to correctly label and place every item. “We lose sleep over keeping track of every single box,” he says.
Safety is also a primary concern for Boxbee customers, who are trusting the startup with objects that are often sentimental. Matthews says his company takes extra precautions to make sure nothing is lost or destroyed. For example, every box is elevated in case of a flood. Matthews also says he pays more for recently-renovated storage spaces to reduce potential damages, such as water leaks.
While Matthews wouldn’t say how many customers he has, he says 4,000 different types of items have been stored by Boxbee. Boxbee has also cleaned out its box supplier — which brands every yellow box with its logo — multiple times in the past few months. Customers range from lawyers storing important documents to people who want their ex’s things out of their homes quickly. Boxbee’s first customer was a man who rented his home on Airbnb and wanted to safely stow away expensive, personal items.
Boxbee ships its crates anywhere in the world, but it only picks up belongings in New York and San Francisco where it has officially launched. While a number of clones have followed in its wake, Matthews says those startups aren’t his competition. Instead, he’s up against attics and basement storage units.
Ultimately, Matthews says his goal isn’t to build a storage company. It’s to make urban living more convenient. “We remind ourselves everyday internally that Boxbee is not in the business of storage,” Matthews says. “We’re in the business of making urban living and commerce more efficient, convenient and accessible. Whatever form our products and services need to take to fulfil that, we’ll do it.”
Here’s a video further explaining how Boxbee works:
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