Ben Cohn, 28, and Jeremy Rosen, 29, swapped their executive offices for a warehouse when they set up mobile self-storage business Taxibox in 2010.
The business delivers storage containers, or Taxiboxes, directly to customers and returns them to the company’s warehouse after being loaded.
The idea was hatched after Cohn, a former management consultant, travelled to the US and heard about a similar business in New Jersey.
“I saw what was happening in the US, where the self-storage industry is massive,” he said.
“Self-storage is hugely convenient and cost-effective. Storage is delivered in and out of people’s houses and they don’t have to hire a truck. Once Jeremy and I got the idea and the name together, we felt it was going to work here.”
Cohn had previously dabbled in property investment, but Taxibox marked a big career shift for him and Rosen, a former investment banker.
“Neither of us had driven trucks or forklifts before, but we were pretty confident,” Cohn says.
“We knew we could take a risk because we had no one that was relying on us, no serious responsibilities.”
At Taxibox Cohn oversees marketing and brand management, while Rosen is in charge of finances.
Their partnership has seen them conquer some steep learning curves, says Cohn.
“The biggest risk for us, and in any business, is the relationship with the partner,” he says.
“I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people around. We express how we feel and we don’t bottle things up, so we can manage any disagreements.
“We respect and trust each other.”
The Sydney-based pair moved to Melbourne to establish the company. They set up a temporary warehouse, which they quickly outgrew before moving to a 3000-square-metre warehouse in the south-eastern suburb of Braeside.
Two years later they set up shop in a 1500-square-metre warehouse in Zetland, in Sydney’s south.
They invested thousands in delivery trucks and lifting machinery, but it was the thousands of Taxiboxes that cost Cohn and Rosen the biggest slice of their set-up pie.
Cohn says he and Rosen spent less than $1 million in set-up costs.
Shortly after launching Taxibox the pair was offered funding from a private equity firm, but refused.
“It was massively tempting, but we decided to stay private and grow organically,” Cohn said.
Cohn and Rosen manage a team of 15 staff, some who have worked in warehouse and logistics industries for years.
“We’re young, but we’re sensitive to managing older staff members,” Cohn says.
“We don’t run a dry corporate environment or have a rigid corporate structure.”
Cohn was just 25 and Rosen 27 when they started the business.
They say their youth has been a big advantage in today’s business culture.
“We’re switched on in advertising and marketing and we’ve been able to harness the online side of the business,” Cohn says.
“We’re creating new competitions on Facebook and have a lot of fun with social media.”
Cohn and Rosen have plans for Taxibox to expand into other major Australian cities and possibly south-east Asia.
“We made sure we built the business up so that it was scaleable and were careful to build a structure so it could expand,” Cohn says.
“Melbourne was the blueprint for the rest of the country. And right now we’re in the process of a pretty aggressive rollout.”
Taxibox has recently branched out into interstate moving, with the company now offering moving services between Sydney and Melbourne.
With property prices steadily increasing and many homeowners living in apartments without garages, the emerging mobile self-storage industry is becoming a popular way to offload.
Taxibox was the first mobile self-storage company in Melbourne, but in the last two years four more have come onto the scene.
In Sydney, where Taxibox was not the first to market, they face at least four competitors.
Despite the competition, Cohn says Taxibox is enjoying boom times with up to 75 deliveries made each day.
“We haven’t been fazed by the competition,” he says.
“Year on year we have grown our business by between 100 and 200 per cent. It’s just taken off.”
The story A storage story on the move first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.