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How to build a neighbourhood-based online community

by Guest on December 21, 2012

After escaping the corporate marketing world Sabine Popp and business partner Linsay Duncan help ambitious entrepreneurs grow their sustainability-focused businesses through professional insourced marketing “direction & doing”.

Turning the storage market upside down

Ever wished for a more affordable, more easily accessible option to store away items or do you have unused storage space available? Marke2ing has interviewed Rosie Bennett, co-founder of storenextdoor.com because they’ve just launched a peer-to-peer matchmaking website as a self-storage solution to this problem.

On a mission

Their mission is to capture a portion of the market from the incumbent corporate self storage companies (Big Yellow, Shurgard, Safestore etc) by offering a good value, neighbourhood based alternative solution. And we like their idea of making better use of private storage options.

What was your motivation to set up Store Next Door?

“My personal motivation is both from a business perspective (after a career in the media and tech I’ve been working with other startups in a VC firm and have been keen to give it a go myself!) but also from being a big fan and participant of the ‘sharing economy’. Dom Moorhouse, our MD, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor, was inspired by seeing Rachel Botsman speak at the Wired conference last year.”

What makes Store Next Door unique?

“The website connects people with space (we call them the Badgers) to people who need storage (known as the Squirrels)! Once a Badger and Squirrel are matched the site provides a legal contract, a secure transaction platform and insurance to cover both parties for the duration of the contract.

We are the only peer-to-peer self storage company currently offering insurance as part of the deal. Having looked at the ‘collaborative consumption’ business landscape very closely we decided that the insurance package would not only differentiate us as a business but be the key to success in the self storage space.”

What is your business model?

“Storenextdoor.com makes money through taking a fixed percentage of the revenue from the storage contract on an ongoing basis.”

What marketing strategy have you put in place to reach your business objectives?

“In order to be successful Store Next Door needs to reach critical mass in terms of people who have space, and people that need space in any one area. As much as possible we need to operate on a truly local level as our business model is built (via the internet) on neighbourhood based relationships. Our key messages are: Good value, Local, Safe and Neighbourly. We are combining old school marketing (door knocking, leafleting, local press) with a targeted online and social media campaign. The big challenge, as with all peer to peer companies, is that we need to appeal to two distinct groups people at the same time but with slightly different versions of the same idea – which is why we came up with the Badgers and the Squirrels!”

What was your biggest challenge in setting up StoreNextDoor and how did you overcome it?

“Dom, Dan and I have all worked on big projects and launches in our careers and we wanted to set the bar high for ourselves with our own project – so it has been hard work as we are a small team!

Saying, that it’s been a really enjoyable journey to get to launch and exciting to be here. As a marketer, I’m under no illusion about the challenge of launching a new consumer brand in a relatively new space. Although the ‘sharing economy’ is gaining ground and there are some great companies paving the way, it’s still one that takes a bit of explaining… and this week as I’ve been out on the streets with my leaflets I’ve been doing quite a lot of that!”

More startup lessons to learn from

This article is part of Marke2ing’s do-good entrepreneurship series. We profile entrepreneurs and their business concepts which set out to do good for people or businesses and give our view on their marketing approach (see Marke2ing’s get inspired blog for that bit, not covered in here). There’s always something to learn from real start-up and business growth experience!

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