Like many entrepreneurs, Daniel Verblis began a career in finance and launched his own business later on.
High quality packaging is a must – and difficult to get hold of out of hours – as Daniel discovered when he became a partner in his friend’s removal company. Customers would be ringing up during the week and at the weekend to ask for more boxes, which in turn was costing them time and money in terms of delivery. They weren’t the only ones: Daniel found that other companies were experiencing the same thing, to the great frustration of firms and customers.
That fed him the inspiration for The Moving Home Warehouse. They partner with removal firms to sell essentials like boxes, bubble wrap and furniture covers from their website and through partner websites using an industry-first free Dropbox API.
The focus on sending these items direct to customers has lent itself well during COVID-19, as there’s no contact between movers and customers.
Before coronavirus surged, Daniel entered The Start-up Series competition (and forgot about it!), going on to win with his innovative business. He tells us how winning the funding has benefited him and whether your business fits the criteria for the competition.
The Start-Up Series competition begins again on September 1st 2020. You can register your interest on our pre-registration page.
Hi Daniel. Tell us more about The Moving Home Warehouse.
We set the company up about four years ago. I used to run a removals business in Bristol – I came in and we had a lot of challenges getting packaging out to customers.
It was a successful removals company and I sold it and I turned my attention to a new business. The premise of it was to try and get quality packaging materials out to customers when they wanted it as we knew this was a huge problem in the industry. We set up The Moving Home Warehouse, starting with sending packing supplies direct to the general public all over the country.
That was the initial basis of the business idea. But we then came up with an idea to work with removal companies and help them ship packaging material direct to their customers on their behalf, saving them time and money using us as a drop-shipping service through our industry first technology.
We developed a basic version of a ‘box shop’ which seamlessly integrates into removal company websites and lets their customers order packing supplies whilst we do the shipping. It worked well but we soon realised that removal companies needed trade packaging more. So the next product we launched was a platform called Boxshipper where removal firms can simply order trade priced packing supplies online direct to their customers from the platform and we take care of the rest. This saves the mover time, money and resources.
And how about yourself – was the idea always to go into a removals packaging business or to start one of your own?
I started in offshore finance in Switzerland and Jersey. I was working there for about ten years. I’d always want to start my own business and working in an offshore trust meant that I’ve worked with a lot of a lot of successful companies and entrepreneurs, helping them administer their businesses offshore, so I always knew I wanted to start my own business.
I had a friend from Bristol who had his own removals company that was struggling financially, and I knew that I could go in and reorganise it better and set it up differently. I chipped into his company, we became partners and turned the business around, making it quite successful before I sold it on. Working in that business, I saw the opportunity for this idea.
>See also: What winning The Start-Up Series meant for me – Andy Roberts, Weekly10
Back to The Start-up Series. After you received the funding, what kind of opportunities did it create within the business and how could you grow it from there?
It was good because it was the right timing for us. I’d just entered the competition, putting in a pitch deck, not knowing if I was going to win. I forgot about it. And then found out that I was down to the last 16. Of course, I went on and won it, and we got the finance.
The finance helped us move into a 7,000 square foot warehouse centre in Bristol. We were in a smaller storage unit before, so we branched out into a proper distribution warehouse with offices.
We were able to start working on our technology and rounding it out. We further developed our retail box shop system and then our trade Boxshipper platform. We’ve been able to contact large national removal companies and present our technology and our systems to them. And we’ve managed to onboard some of the biggest removals companies in the UK who are now using our system and saving hundreds of thousands in lost revenue.
It’s actually opened the doors to quite a lot of things – we’ve taken on full-time staff, a full-time developer, CTO and operations manager. And we’ve received follow-on funding since then which has been crucial for the business growth.
>See also: What winning The Start-Up Series meant for me – Shane Lowe, Vitrue
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
As with most businesses, we had to shut down for a small period of time but there were grants and loans available from the Government which we took advantage of. Apart from that, there hasn’t really been a major effect – after about three months it’s bounced back.
The housing market seems to be coming back strong as well. After lockdown, people seem to want to move apartments and houses. I mean, I’ve been getting phone calls from all over the country from movers saying that the market has gone crazy.
We ship packaging material direct to customers doors, so the moving companies don’t have to, which solves the COVID-19 social distancing aspect.
The movers don’t really want to go around to the customer’s house more often than they have to dropping boxes off as it cost them time and money. And the people moving home don’t really want movers coming into their house and doing all their packing for them in these uncertain times. Now they want to just get boxes sent to their house. So COVID-19 has kind of played into our hand a little bit in respect of the way that we work.
Even though the removals industry seems to be bouncing back, a lot of removal companies are tightening their belts to ensure they stay afloat and need to maintain all of their resources. Our product and service is going to help these companies save money, save time and save a lot of their res
ources. So, if anything, we’re hoping that we’re going to see an increase in revenues because our tech helps removal companies’ bottom line.
What are The Start-up Series and Worth Capital looking for in competition entrants?
The Start-Up Series for us was great. I call us a ‘tech and mortar’ company (if anyone’s has ever used that term before) where you’ve got a traditional warehouse kind of bricks and mortar company, but at the same time you’ve got a technology company bringing innovation into a traditional industry. I think that’s what Worth Capital liked.
Worth Capital seem to like companies that aren’t necessarily reinventing the wheel, but that are bringing technology into traditional markets where they can disrupt a big established market.
I’d say to any start-ups, particularly in retail and ecommerce, that if they think that they’ve got something that’s going to revolutionise an existing, traditional industry, then it’s worth applying for The Start-up Series.
Small Business and Worth Capital partner to relaunch The Start-Up Series — with £250,000 equity funding up for grabs each month!