Taking Advantage of Empty Space in the City
Meet our teams:
Marcel Wipijewski (co-founder), Jan-Michael Steiner (co-founder) and Natascha Faulhaber (CCO) are the minds behind Kawaloo, a promising startup in our Future City Incubator that aim to revolutionize the way we use urban space.
Kawaloo, already launched in Berlin last year, is an online marketplace which enables users to rent or lease unused space via a digital platform.
This is their story:
How did you come up with the idea for kawaloo?
Jan’s problem quickly caught on with his long-time friend and later business partner Marcel, who also recently faced similar difficulties.
Our thought was: We share our apartments, cars and even pets – but the search for simple storage space in the neighbourhood is a real challenge for individuals. Even though so many basements and attics are almost empty.
So, what if there was an online platform that easily brings together unused space with those people who urgently need storage space?
This question initiated kawaloo and our mission was immediately clear: We want to make unused storage space visible and easily accessible.
What is the biggest challenge you have encountered so far?
While people are already aware of the possibility to rent out their home with AirBnB during their vacation, renting out unused space for storage is a rather new concept. The challenge for us is to reach our potential users and educate them about the opportunity to rent out their unused space effortlessly and safely with kawaloo. Our ambition is to make the concept sharing storage space equally familiar as it is already in the housing and vacation industry.
“Space in urban areas is increasingly scarce and demand for storage space is surging. We enable individuals and small business with unused space to rent it out to those who need it in a digital and convenient way. This supports a more sustainable way of using existing space in our cities rather than taking up additional space.”
Given the price level and growing convenience of existing storage offers, how is your offer an interesting proposition to both sides commercially?
On one hand, many basements, attics or garages are used very little or not at all. Those square meters can easily be turned into a regular source of income with no effort.
On the other hand, there is an enormous space problem, especially in metropolises. Unused space of individuals and businesses is in turn needed by others, for long- term or for temporary storage. At this point, we want to provide a solution for the supply and demand inefficiencies when it comes to storage space. Our main goal is for everyone to find the storage spaces that they are looking for – at a better price and with better services than our competitors.
What other spaces does kawaloo target after storage spaces?
We basically have a lot of ideas that we would like to implement immediately. Especially when it comes to countering the space problem in Berlin, we have a few more opportunities in mind.
The Corona situation in particular helped us to further diversify our supply side as event locations, co-working spaces and regular offices started renting out their unused space. This not only provides a more attractive choice for our users who seek storage space but also improves our know-how about the characteristics of various facilities.
We have been on a strong growth path since the beginning of the BIA funding program and we are very confident to launch some more interesting and sustainable initiatives in the future.
What do you think about the new movement towards minimalism?
In a fast-paced era in which digitalization is progressing very quickly and people are becoming more and more flexible with their work and their travel behaviour, it makes perfect sense to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Owning less also means worrying less and becoming more flexible in your actions. If we separate ourselves from unnecessary possessions, what remains is what is really important to us in the end. And in our opinion, the concept of minimalism is very worthwhile for this knowledge alone.
With our ambition to use our limited space in urban areas more efficiently, we would like to establish this central idea in our community and inform all kawaloo members how they can best use minimalism concepts for themselves.
In a perfect world, what would your home look like?
When it comes to creating our dream home, we agree: we want as much flexibility as possible. Flexible rental contracts and rental-purchase models that fit a person’s lifestyle and future plans are the first step. Furthermore, room layouts and furnishings are important. Movable walls that make it possible to divide rooms according to different scenarios, and furniture that can be adapted to individual circumstances would definitely be part of our perfect home design. For us, if you want to seize all chances of today, you have to remain flexible and agile. And in our opinion, that starts with housing.