Join The Scurry At The LaunchLab
LaunchLab’s Ideas Programme has led to the actualisation of an innovative and disruptive technology in the storage solutions space, with Sxuirrel’s marketplace app connecting seekers of storage space with providers of storage space. Used to find or offer local, unique and flexible storage solutions, this trio of Stellenbosch students has used LaunchLab’s network of industry contacts together with the incubator’s mentorship programme to grow their idea into a dynamic start-up. Keep an eye on their incredible progress!
Sxuirrel offers a community marketplace where seekers of storage space can connect with providers of storage space. In this way, hosts and seekers can enjoy local, unique and flexible storage solutions. The stress of needing extra space to store individual bulky items, such as bicycles or golf clubs, or only temporary storage of the many boxes needed to pack up a res room during holidays is relieved by those living in more spacious environments who are looking for make some extra cash. It’s a win-win situation!
Offered as a peer-to-peer marketplace app, similar to the likes of AirBnB and Uber, this inspired idea was brought to life by three Stellenbosch University students who faced storage problems regularly. Michael-John Dippenaar, or MJ as he is commonly known, heads up the management and design strategy of the company as CEO, while Henri Bam takes on operations with platform and market research as the COO. Michael Louis is the techie leading software development, with an additional IT service provider based in New Zealand assisting with development.
Taking the concept from only an idea to reality is the challenging part, but as MJ and Henri have always been interested in start-ups, they knew of the LaunchLab and the incubator services offered. So when LaunchLab hosted a recent Ideas Programme, the three pitched their idea for the innovative storage solution, and their plans to disrupt the storage industry by making unique storage solutions available and accessible to all. And they won!
The cash prize of R20 000 was put to good use in establishing the business fundamentals, and the 6-month incubator space provided a working base for this dynamic group of students. More importantly, under the guidance of LaunchLab’s designated liaison officer and mentor Dawid, and Jonathan, who provided assistance with financial systems, the acorn of a company started to root and grow. Tapping into LaunchLab’s network of corporate contacts, Sxuirrel has now found a strategic investor in Insta-Space who operates nationally, with businesses in the storage, containers, logistics, courier and office space sectors. This partner company offers Sxuirrel direct insight into industry knowledge and their many years of experience, helping Sxuirrel to avoid the challenges most often faced by start-ups who have to go it alone.
The Sxuirrel scurry credit LaunchLab for contributing to their success. From more strategic aspects such as the advice received from experienced mentors and the incredibly diverse contact network, to practical aspects such as sharing recommended service providers, to the great energy and vibe of the hot desk area and coffee shop for collaborating and inspiring.
The acorn has developed into a little oak, with a beta launch at the end of 2016 providing necessary feedback for improvements, bug fixing and developing additional features. The iOS app launched in April this year, and development is underway on the Android platform. Targeting millennials, and specifically in the Stellenbosch area initially, Sxuirrel has plans to grow to other university towns first, then nationwide, and then internationally. According to Henri, what makes an entrepreneur successful is “ambition, believing in yourself and your product, and never stopping the hard work”. We look forward to seeing this start-up grow into one of our country’s might oaks.
When starting to grow your idea, just go for it… don’t hold back, give it your all!