Thirty-five minutes had passed. The employees of BoxCo., a Northwestern storage startup run by students, had been debating how to curb costs for the upcoming summer season. Tensions were thick in the room as Saskia Wiesebron, the company’s nineteen-year-old director, weighed in on strategies to track the distribution of the thousands of boxes that the company orders each year.
This is proving to be a critical year for BoxCo., which plans to announce major restructuring this Friday with a relaunched website. After three years of fostering an increasing customer base and healthy revenue growth, the company is capitalizing on major opportunities for expansion.
This year, Northwestern Student Holdings (NSH), BoxCo.’s parent company, dissolved four of the eight startups it had been funding due to viability concerns. NSH has been heavily focusing on increasing the visibility of its startups, something Wiesebron, an Economics and History sophomore, believes BoxCo. has been doing an excellent job at.
“I think more and more, students on campus recognize who we are and what we do,” she said.
Indeed, last year Wiesebron said their customer base grew 26 percent compared to 2013, and she believes that in 2015, BoxCo. will see its customer base really explode.
Former BoxCo. CEO and current adviser David Olodort, a McCormick junior, is excited for the prospect of the company being exposed to new customers.
“We’re coming from a place where we’ve controlled what we think to be 20 or 30 percent [of the customer base], and now have the potential to reach 80 or 90 percent [of our market],” Olodort said.
These changes are likely to have major impacts on the company’s revenue, something that has been climbing steadily at BoxCo. over the last couple years as they’ve grown their user base. In 2014, revenues grew 59 percent compared to the previous year.
Wiesebron sees the huge potential for profit growth by attracting new customers and expressed confidence about the company's ability to address new issues. "We're really trying to improve on operations, it's kind of how it goes where something will have gone wrong and you'll just to look to fix it the next year," Wiesebron said.
The new changes that BoxCo. plans to announce are likely to curb some of these pervasive issues and increase efficiency at the company, though Wiesebron hinted these changes did not come easily. BoxCo. will be closely partnering with Northwestern Residential Services to store on-campus students’ boxes in the residential halls' basements to make storing more simple and cost-effective, but due to undisclosed external factors, the company will have to completely change the way it operates for off-campus students.
With these changes, BoxCo. is set to announce a tiered pricing structure for its services. Wiesebron detailed that she was somewhat concerned about students' reactions to the new price points, but believed that BoxCo.'s transparency would help communicate to students why the changes were being made.In charge of selling these changes is McCormick freshman Ashwin Basana, the communications director of BoxCo., who just joined the company this year. Basana, an industrial engineering major, expected to have a little more time to grow accustomed to the company’s culture, but instead says he quickly was making major decisions from day one.
“There really was no buffer zone, which I guess seemed kind of shocking at first,” he said.
Despite the stresses of managing the startup, the team says they're excited for the challenge and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. “It’s not necessarily something that the typical college student would do in that you’re not really chilling or going to parties,” Wiesebron said. "But it’s a different type of fun.”