This article originally appeared on Forbes.com
Filipinos are natural hoarders because they’re sentimental and like to hold on to everything, says Austin Avila, one of the folks behind Philippine startup Kahon.ph.
But living in places like Metro Manila means that space is at a premium. It’s one of the reasons why demand for affordable and convenient storage solutions is growing, with young professionals and small and medium-sized business owners having to hire reliable local movers and navigate Manila traffic.
Kahon provides an alternative through its web-based storage service that lets consumers manage their belongings virtually without having to drive to a warehouse, rental space or mom and dad’s house, which is where many Filipinos store their stuff.
Established 3 years ago, Kahon (“box” in Tagalog) calls itself a mix of Uber/Grab for storage and Airbnb for warehouses.
The company matches customers with stuff to store (individuals or businesses) with warehouse owners who have space to offer, and Kahon is the middleman that handles all of the packing and transportation.
So when you want to store something, a Kahon team shows up at your place, packs up your stuff, logs the contents, and stores everything with one of its facility partners. Your information is entered into the Kahon system, and you log onto the website to choose items and schedule deliveries.
“We use technology to make our service more accessible, bringing 21st century conveniences to our customers by allowing them to manage their inventory through a personalized online dashboard,” says cofounder Nick Padilla, who calls himself a “space captain.”
He says he was inspired by a similar service in San Francisco.
Padilla is creating an ecosystem that benefits both storage facility owner and customer, whether it be a family looking to do renovations and needs everything cleared out, or a corporation required to keep 10 years worth of physical documents.
Unlike traditional self storage facilities, Kahon charges for the space your stuff takes up, from $4 (200 PHP) per month for a Kahon storage bin to about $15 (750 PHP) per square meter per month.
One drawback to the service is you don't have immediate access to your stored items 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Kahon operates during traditional business hours, not early mornings, late nights, weekends or holidays. So expect to wait at least a couple days before you can receive your items, depending on when you schedule your delivery.
“The real challenge is changing the mindset of the typical Filipino who stores ‘bodega’ style,” Padilla says. “Most of the time our no. 1 competition is their parent's house, and it is a tough battle because how do compete with free?!”
“Our focus now is really on scaling the service across the country, then eventually grow regionally,” Padilla adds. “The really exciting part is scaling as a platform for warehouses and/or traditional storage facilities. They will be the landlords and we will be the service providers for the customers.”