Sxuirrel, a Stellenbosch based peer-to-peer storage and space finding solution, has secured seed funding of R2.4 million from a strategic partner investment holding company with interests in the storage, logistics and transport industry, in return for a minority shareholding.
Sxuirrel, South Africa’s first peer-to-peer storage solution is revolutionising the idea of decentralised space.
By disrupting an existing industry to provide self-storage opportunities through consumer-based sharing solutions, Sxuirrel is creating an entirely new storage marketplace, focused on the growing millennial generation.
Think of Sxuirrel as the Airbnb for storage and space solutions – connecting people with available space, to those in need of space.
Co-founder, CEO and Stellenbosch student, Michael-John Dippenaar, recognised the increasing demand for more affordable, accessible and flexible storage solutions, whilst studying at the University.
“Newly built apartments and residence rooms are going smaller every year. With consumerism on the rise and the traditional storage solutions to our disposal outdated, we saw an opportunity ripe for disruption”.
“Traditional storage options are unaffordable, inaccessible and quite frankly not a viable short-term solution for most millennials,” says Dippenaar. Alongside his two co-founders, Henri Bam and Michael Louis, also students at the University, they set out to solve the problem they experienced first-hand. Ater participation with, and winning support from the Stellenbosch based accelerator Launchlab, the Scurry (as they refer to their team) managed to craf their idea into a value proposition and business concept.
Sxuirrel connects a community of people who need space, “Storees”, with those who can provide it, “Listees”.
This enables users to store their belongings at a listing of their choosing, access their belongings when desired and only pay for the space they actually use. Users who have underutilised space can make listings of their own and turn their space into profit with no effort at all.
Listees and Storees have profiles that allow a peer-to-peer rating and review system to build trust between the parties and to inform other community members of the level of service provided by their peers.
To further ensure trust and security between the parties, Sxuirrel also ensures a rigorous verification process and the storage of illegal goods are prohibited. Backed by the peer-to-peer rating system, Storees can decide with which Listee they feel secure to store their belongings, and Listees can accept requests of their choosing.
Taking a step back and looking into the storage industry in South Africa, the double-digit growth industry is extremely segmented, with the two biggest players, Stor-Age and Xtraspace accounting for roughly 15%-18% of the market.
Within said segmented market, inefficiencies were clear to the millennial start-up founders; the storage solutions to their disposal were too expensive, not flexible enough in their offering and inaccessibly located in the outskirts of towns, mostly in industrial areas.
On top of that, intermediary community driven solutions such as Gumtree or local community forums are extracting significant amounts of value through the use of social technologies.
“The funding agreement is indicative of digital transformation within the $34 billion storage industry,” says Dippenaar. In his opinion, the advent of the sharing economy is rendering businesses obsolete. The shift in purchasing power to millennials has transformed how business will be conducted in the future, evident by the growing market-place economies across the globe.
“This is not only important for us, but for South Africa as national conglomerates and big-role players start to see the value of start-ups within local industries, and help them scale to become part of their global competitive strategy”, according to Dippenaar.
He said too often success for South African start-ups mean international capital injections, or selling off assets to international competitors.
“We aim to amalgamate the community industry under a single storage-associated brand, Sxuirrel.” The funding will assist in the product and platform development, as well as marketing and staffing costs and according to Dippenaar most importantly, building the Sxuirrel brand.
Their current main focus area is providing customer centric, flexible service to the student market. With their highly scalable platform, the Scurry is looking to expand their services aggressively across the country, providing the go-to storage platform nationally.
Sxuirrel is already expanding its offering to flexible parking space and according to Dippenaar has its sights set on further expansion of their service in the near future, becoming synonymous with finding space.
“Our service is based on agility; be agile in your offering. Be specific in the solution you’re trying to solve and be focused on your customer”.
“Our company culture of trying new ideas, being innovative in all processes and a transparent communication flow, helps us deliver the best business model to our users. We’re meticulous in having each user, or Scurry member, feel part of the family and ensure a seamless and hassle free storage service. We even include supplementary services such as packing or help with pick-up and delivery”.