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Changing how you move, one box at a time

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Changing how you move, one box at a time
Box at Work founder Gerrit Jan Reinders. Photo: Box at Work
10:40 CET+01:00
In our weekly feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind his successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed him forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Gerrit Jan Reinders, founder of Box at Work.

Box at Work is a company aiming to shake up the old-fashioned storage and moving world. Reusable plastic boxes that are cheaper and smarter than the usual cardboard boxes can be rented. By sharing and recycling their boxes, Box at Work also actively reduces the overall carbon footprint.

How did you come up with this business idea?

I had to move into a smaller apartment using cardboard boxes. You know how their handles and bottoms rip off every time you put in too many things. Once I had settled down in my new home, I realized I either had too much stuff or my apartment was too small. It was clearly the latter. I needed somewhere to store but no convenient way to do it.

I would first have to drive to some location, get a 'contract', pay rent, hire a van and then still have to drag all my stuff there. And do it all over again once I could afford a bigger place. I began wondering why there wasn’t a service offering this for me; a service that also got rid of those annoying cardboard boxes, which are not good for the environment. That’s how I decided to start Box at Work.

We pick up and deliver strong plastic boxes for free within 24 hours for either moving or storing your belongings such as clothes, books and bulky items like skis, suitcases, tires, etc. No need to drag your belongings to self-storage facilities, we do that for you.

It's cheaper, our clients don't need to drive up and down to DIY stores to buy cardboard or to self-storage facilities to store their belongings. No need to rent a van as we pick up and deliver for free and our clients don't need to buy unnecessary moving materials they only use once. We rent out handy items as part of the sharing economy.

It's environmentally-friendly as we reduce traffic in cities due to our efficient, combined and centralized driving routes for all our clients. Our boxes can be used 400 times compared to a cardboard box, which can be used for only one to three times, thus, saving a lot of energy in the recycling process.

What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?

In the founding phase of a company, there is a lot that needs to be kept in mind. In order to work effectively and to achieve set deadlines, you need to be on top of all the preparations. I have a financial background but had to become an HR manager, real estate agent, IT geek and so on.

It is all about understanding every process in your company so that you have insight about what people working for you will be doing on a day-to-day basis.

How has the journey been so far?

No day is like the previous one. We are a creative and ambitious team and every day, we are confronted with new challenges. It started from finding a good location for our secure warehouse to building a very customer-friendly website.

For us, it is all about the customer: we want to provide a new type of on-demand service that is flexible to his/ her needs. We hope to enlarge the expectations of Berliners concerning the service they can get. Therefore, we researched a lot, with trial and error, to find what Berliners are looking for when it comes to inner-city storage and moving.

In sum, we have met a lot of interesting people, built up new partnerships and optimized the processes in our start-up. We are now a month old on the Berlin self-storage and moving market and are overwhelmed with the positive response.

How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you, personally?

I wanted to start something that matters. With Box at Work, I can make urban moving and storing easier and at the same time help the environment, reduce carbon emissions, minimize waste in landfills and have a significant positive effect on people living in urban areas.

I have met so many people and learned so much in a short period. Meeting other founders, new partners and people we work with made me more relaxed towards new challenges and barriers.

Any other personal reflections or message to budding entrepreneurs?

The key is to always stay critical and adaptive to changing situations. A change does not necessarily mean a bad thing.

Foremost, keep your focus on the goal. If you manage to do that, every setback will only make your idea into a better one.

Are you an entrepreneur in Germany? Contact us and we might feature your story

Sparsh Sharma works as a freelance journalist for The Local and blogs about his experiences in Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s.

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