All Space is a peer-to-peer marketplace that taps into the rising Shared Economy and aims to be the ‘Airbnb’ of New Zealand’s storage industry.
Need somewhere to store your stuff? Looking to rent out your unused storage space?
All Space, a graduate of Massey University’s ecentre Sprint accelerator programme, lets you do precisely that, with ease.
All Space was born from an idea of the start-up’s CEO Elena Stanovova, who had experienced personal struggles in finding flexible and affordable storage solutions in this country.
Commercial storage facilities typically charge high monthly fees, she says, and don’t provide enough flexibility. “So I thought, wouldn’t it be great if someone would let me pay them to store my things?”
The three founders of All Space brought varied, yet complimentary, backgrounds to the start-up.
Elena had worked in IT across various industries for six-plus years; CTO Ivan Ignat has five years’ experience in software development; while marketer Myriam Jenni spent four years in sales and consulting.
Before launching All Space they held a succession of market validation tests and ran an online survey to gauge the demand for such a service. The survey was overwhelmingly positive.
More research followed to gain an understanding of users’ pain-points, and learn what All Space could do to solve problems around storage space.
Elena says their ecentre experience in the early stages of the business helped them to define their value proposition, match product with market, and develop a strategy for future business development and growth.
At the time of writing the six month target is to expand within Auckland and reach at least 300 space listings. After that, the rest of New Zealand is in their sights, and the hope is that commercial storage facilities will also get involved.
“The aim is to become the preferred platform for Kiwis to search and book storage space across New Zealand,” says Ivan, adding that in the next six to nine months they’ll be looking for their first round of investment funding to scale up.
Being a Shared Economy start-up, Elena says the main challenges faced by All Space relate to the difficulty surrounding a two-sided (peer-to-peer) marketplace, and ensuring trust amongst users. “It means having to research, understand, and market to two different user groups with different expectations and motivation in using our platform.”
There’s also the ‘chicken or egg’ issue, she says – attracting the supply at the same time as the demand.
“As an example, if we don’t have enough host listings, we won’t attract renters; but no one will want to list their space with us if we don’t have enough visitors.”
The trust factor
Ivan says they realised early on that real-life people were needed as ambassadors to help spread the word. “Word-of-mouth is paramount to our business success. We had to find potential users, and meet our early adopters.”
She says inspiration came from Airbnb – whose founders spent a night with some of their listed hosts, and advised on how they could improve the experience.
The other main challenge is building trust between users. Without trust, the business would just not work, says Myriam.
“The question is, how can we create that relationship between our users?” she says.
“One of the solutions businesses have been adopting, is to use the entire digital reputation people are building for themselves over various P2P platforms – like Airbnb and eBay.
“This concept is especially helpful for new platforms like ours. Users no longer need to wait to get a first transaction in order to prove their trustworthiness as they can showcase their high ratings from other websites.
“All Space uses Deemly, a tool built for collaborative economy businesses that includes ratings from main platforms such as Airbnb, and will soon add Trade Me to its list.”
Looking ahead, Myriam believes the whole economy is heading towards automation.
“New technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robots, autonomous transport, and AI will make that reality possible.”
She predicts the spread of IoT tech devices will actually complement and expand the All Space business model. For example, more people will use smart locks and smart home accessories to access storage space without having to physically be there – all the while knowing that their house is safe.
All Space is also keen to design and build an end-to-end unique customer experience – similar to Airbnb, which is currently expanding its business model to incorporate new services in order to create the most seamless travel experience.
“So during the next five years, we’ll be working to achieve an automated and extraordinary customer journey,” says Elena.
Shared ideas: The Sharing Economy Association
Myriam Jenni believes the Sharing Economy has a deep economical and social impact.
The All Space directors are passionate about the shift it creates from ownership to access.
“Co-sharing leads to a more sustainable way of resource usage,” she says. “The sharing economy offers huge opportunities for reinvention and innovation in traditional industries. It opens up a new level of creativity.
“For us, the Sharing Economy Association is an opportunity to join forces to create a supportive network, influence traditional industries, promote the collaborative economy to the public and make a difference.
“We’d like to share our story, both highs and lows – inspire and be inspired by others.”
Elena says it’s a misconception that the Sharing Economy mostly targets young tech savvy people.
“Interestingly the 40 to 60 demographic is very active. We get a lot of interest from the older demographic for both the ‘host’ and ‘renter’ side of storage.”
She’s quick to dispel myths surrounding the Sharing Economy – particularly around security. “Some may think it’s not secure to put personal or financial information into a shared economy mobile app or website. But mobile app security is as safe as online banking or any other secure online data.”
As to physical security of the assets, many people might think the insurance industry is totally against the Sharing Economy, she continues. “Quite the opposite; it presents a completely new market and opportunity to grow in a completely new way.
“We’re seeing smaller insurers jumping on board and creating unique products to fit the market need.”
Myriam predicts a normalisation of the Sharing Economy over the next few years, and it’s adoption by large, traditional businesses – in much the same way as travel firms eventually established an online presence and partnered with online fare comparison and booking websites.