BoxCo. launches, crowds dorm storage market

Link to story: http://www.northbynorthwestern.com/story/boxco-launches-crowding-dorm-storage-market/

Campus Solutions will have a new competitor in the storage market this summer after BoxCo., a new student-run business on campus, launched Sunday night.

BoxCo. is an “affordable, convenient and secure storage and shipping provider for Northwestern students,” according to the company’s website. The business is managed by Northwestern Student Holdings (NSH), and planning for the launch began back in January. BoxCo. was founded by Weinberg juniors Nathan Katz and Alex Onsager and Weinberg senior Prateek Janardhan.

With its slogan, “storage made simple,” Katz boasts that BoxCo. is a low-cost and easy to use alternative to outside storage companies. BoxCo. also offers upfront pricing and “BoxGuard,” $300 insurance on every item you store.

Katz, who currently serves as the CEO of NSH with Onsager, was upset by his own experience with Campus Solutions and wanted to offer a better alternative. After the trio proposed their business model in NSH’s Business Idea Competition, BoxCo. was granted the largest amount of funding any NSH business has ever received.

While Katz and his co-founders are excited about the new launch this week, Campus Solutions’ president, Ren Wang, is not as enthusiastic about the NSH’s newest venture. He said he believes that the founders of BoxCo. copied his company’s entire business model.

“I’ve always thought NSH was supposed to be an organization that fosters entrepreneurship and innovation,” Wang said. “… there is nothing entrepreneurial about ripping off an idea that already exists.”

According to Wang, several members of NSH were once his customers. He accuses them of duplicating everything from the concept of reservation fees to BoxCo.’s own name – Campus Solutions was originally called Boxing Co.

Even though he is concerned by BoxCo., Wang doubts that the company will be able to deliver upon the services that they are offering. “Our model and our service today are good because we make adjustments every single year,” he said. “Without the know-how that comes with five years of experience, it’s very difficult to run this type of operation.”

Since NSH manages several other businesses, Onsager trusts that the group has enough experience working with the campus community. In the past week, Onsager said that they have delivered more than $4,000 worth of food through Wildcat Express and sold around 500 cookies with Project Cookie. “The idea that this company is inexperienced or somehow incapable of moving boxes – that really is a bit offensive to our team.”

Onsager was also quick to defend BoxCo. against Wang’s accusations of fabrication.

“There’s lot of storage companies around the country and if you look at them, nothing about Campus Solutions, except for what they’ve done to adapt to the Northwestern campus, is unique,” he said.

The two storage companies have not yet met to address each other’s concerns, but Wang said he hopes to approach BoxCo.’s founders by the end of the quarter.

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