Non-obvious startup ideas can yield the largest results
Amazon business started by selling books online. But for Jeff Bezos, selling books was just the starting point. Once Amazon had its infrastructure in place, it extended its business from books to electronics, toys, apparel, and almost any retailer category you can think of.
As Mark Suster points in his article Here is Why Non-Obvious Startup Ideas Can Yield the Largest Results, Amazon is emblematic of the sort of company that mostly disrupts industries behind the scenes, winning through distribution, logistics, inventory management, warehousing, customer support, etc. It never intended to disrupt just the book seller’s market… it intended to disrupt the selling of all kind of goods.
Mark Suster’s article is not about Amazon, however. It’s about MakeSpace. If you haven’t heard of MakeSpace, they define themselves as your closet in the cloud:
MakeSpace is New York’s #1 consumer rated storage company. We deliver free bins (or boxes if you’re outside of NYC, Washington D.C. or Chicago) for you to pack with items you’d like to store. We pick up, store, and deliver your stuff back when you want so you never have to visit a storage unit again.
At our secure storage facility, we upload high-quality overhead photos of your bins or boxes so you know what you have in MakeSpace at all times. This makes ordering your things back simple.
He makes a great analysis of MakeSpace’s business model, market opportunity, and the disruption of an existing but stagnant industry. And they are doing something similar to Amazon:
What tech has our capital raised gone into? Driver routing systems, scheduling, inventory management & tracking, warehousing systems, photography automation, customer service applications as well as the obvious front-end apps such as our consumer apps for keeping track of your goods. We have an amazing team of W2 drivers in NYC, Washington D.C, and Chicago with regional warehouses in each territory and our technology makes it more efficient for them to do their daily pickups with least-cost routing. But as you can imagine we’ve also built technology to allow third-party drivers in markets where we don’t want our own vans. We have built UPS integration to allow a product called “MakeSpace Air” to allow us to do national pickups.
We are building a national business and a beloved brand in a category that is large, fragmented and universally hated. I know that storage sounds unsexy to most but in terms of disrupting a large market where competitors can’t respond? It’s a market made in heaven.
The real question, as Suster points, is which markets will MakeSpace move into the future.