Tenacity and a determination not to fail have been the motivating drivers for Ben Cohn and Jeremy Rosen and their mobile self-storage business Taxibox.
“I’m a firm believer any idea can work as long as the brains behind it are operating effectively,” Cohn told StartupSmart.
It was a big leap for the friends from the corporate world – Cohn (crouched at the front in the picture above) was a management consultant and Rosen (at the far right) an investment banker – to start a business they had no experience in.
“Neither of us had driven trucks before,” Cohn says.
“We went from wearing suit and ties every day to having to suddenly hop into a truck and forklift and get our licences.”
The idea for the business came when Cohn was on a work trip to the US and saw the popularity of mobile storage businesses. He thought the concept could be transplanted to Australia.
Taxibox delivers to a premises large modular containers that can hold about one tonne in weight, which is filled by the customer. The boxes are then picked up and stored in a Taxibox warehouse. Taxibox then delivers the boxes to the customer where and when they need it at the end of the storage term.
Since beginning in Melbourne in 2010 with just Cohn and Rosen working in the business with a ute and trailers, Taxibox now has 15 staff and seen growth in the number of boxes it handles rise by 100% to 200% a year. They also now have three trucks and have expanded to Sydney.
Cohn, 28, and Rosen, 30, are aiming to tap the growing popularity of the self-storage industry as people move or downsize and need a place to store their goods. They plan to add more trucks and are considering the business’ potential to grow overseas, with eyes on Asia.
Cohn says a big part of the success of the business is his partnership with Rosen, who he’s known since 2006 when they worked together at management consultancy Accenture.
“We trust and respect each other immensely,” Cohn says.
“There are always going to be disagreements in any business partnership, but we really try and understand each other and deal with things logically so we can progress things.”
Cohn says one of the biggest challenges they faced was managing the business’ rapid growth, as buying boxes and trucks was capital intensive.
He says in the early days they monitored every dollar they spent and were careful to not overcommit to warehouse space, only taking on what they needed.
They’ve also resisted the lure of private equity firms which made offers for the firm.
“We decided at this stage to grow organically without equity funding,” Cohn says.