The end of spring quarter means the start of storage season at Northwestern. Earlier this month, Northwestern Student Holdings, a student-run company that funds businesses serving the Northwestern and Evanston communities, launched its newest company, BoxCo. Two of the founders, juniors Nathan Katz and Alex Onsager took some time out of their schedules to answer some questions from the Northwestern Business Review on the structure and the goals of the company.
NBR: Why did you start BoxCo.?
Onsager: We started BoxCo. because we were dissatisfied with the current slate of storage options available on campus. We thought that NSH could both offer a better service and at a better price.
NBR: How did BoxCo. get started?
Onsager: We thought of the idea in January and developed it. Then, we pitched it to the NSH board of directors as part of the Business Idea Competition, which is a competition that they hold every year to start new NSH businesses; any student can propose an idea. It was considered along with a number of other business proposals and then it won out, it was approved, and it was funded with the largest amount of funding that any NSH business has ever gotten, actually.
NBR: What are your goals as a company?
Onsager: Our goal is to offer a great storage service that Northwestern students can use and to offer entrepreneurial experience to all of our members.
Katz: We have a big team too.
Onsager: There are many freshman and sophomores.
NBR: How many people are on your team?
Katz: Around 15 people.
Onsager: For NSH, it is a big group.
Katz: We have people from all different walks of life. Alex mentioned that we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, of the three founders, one is a senior, and we are both juniors. We have also involved a lot of alumni NSH members in advisory roles; they will have a lot to do later in the year when we are doing operational stuff.
Onsager: It is very much an NSH effort.
NBR: According to a recent North by Northwestern article, the founder of Campus Solutions feels as if you copied their business model. How is BoxCo. different and what can you offer that is different than Campus Solutions?
Onsager: First off, we offer dramatically better prices. Second, we offer a simplified service; I think that if you go to our website that will be clear. Finally, we have BoxGuard, which is a great insurance policy and it also means that you will get your total [price] at pickup, rather than months later. These are all things we personally had experienced the negative side of in storing and we thought we could do better, so these are the innovations we added to it.
Katz: Our business is designed to be similar to Campus Solutions; we entered as a competitor to perform a storage function. But what we feel strongly about is the fact that we observed some of their good qualities and some of their less good qualities and we designed a business that would emulate some of the better qualities and improve the weaker ones.
NBR: How does the business work? What is the process of registering and storing?
Onsager: How the business works is that you go to our website, there you sign up, you pay a $20 reservation fee, which entitles you to unlimited boxes and packing supplies. While reregistering and reserving, you sign up for a pick up time, many of them are in reading week and finals week. Then we come pick up the stuff, it gets stored over the summer, and we will drop it back off at your new residence from late august to beginning up September.