A new online marketplace is being launched by North Wales entrepreneurs. Anna Roberts and Huw Davies-Cooke have spent the last year working on the idea and are now securing investments in order to launch a self-storage marketplace called explorage.co.uk.
Anna, a 35-year-old Chartered Surveyor and Project Manager from Anglesey, left the corporate world 3 years ago.
“I’d studied Building Surveying at university and had worked my way up the corporate ladder, but I just knew I had more to offer; I set up my own surveying firm to give me the flexibility to explore other options. It’s the most exciting and terrifying thing I’ve done but it feels right, and lady luck has been firmly on our side from the beginning, as things have just stacked up”.
Huw, a 24-year-old Mechanical Engineering Graduate from Flintshire explains why they chose self-storage,
“The idea started from our love of adventure sports, which living in North Wales we had plenty of opportunity for. We would see our friends in the city hoard their sports equipment in their flats, and thought wouldn’t it be great if they could store their stuff actually in the locations they need to use them. As we researched further it became apparent that there are lots of existing self-storage facilities spread out all over the place, they are often just difficult to find, and understanding the options and pricing is really tricky too; Explorage aims to pull this together and offer a ‘one stop shop’ for storage solutions.”
Over the next 5 years Explorage plans to create around 50 skilled jobs in the region and invest over £10 million pounds; being a philanthropic force for good in the community.
“We’re on the first rung of the ladder”, smiles Anna with a sparkle in her eye, “but the timing and opportunity is right, and we are determined to make the most of it. We are already looking at overseas markets with a view to scaling quickly”.
“Whilst in the USA, self-storage marketplaces connecting providers and customers have been around for years, the UK is only just starting to awaken to the value it can bring. Industry disruption in this way is inevitable and we are desperate for storage providers to see that we are good genuine people; we want them to help us grow a service which really works for their business and customers.”
Supported by the “Enterprise Hub”, a business support project run in collaboration by Menter Mon and M-SParc, the pair are based at the Enterprise Hub’s flagship office at the award-winning M-SParc building, in Anglesey. Huw notes “this is such a great place to work from, we are inspired daily by the other innovative business here and the amazing surroundings the space brings; we have made so many great connections from the place”.
So finally, if you’re wondering how this ambitious pair know each other, well Anna is the Aunty. When questioning the age difference between her and her siblings, her Dad declared she wasn’t a mistake, she was a miracle… and that “it was a cold winter that year !”. Huw adds, “even before setting up Explorage, we used to talk business for hours and share book recommendations like “The Lean Start Up” and “How to Build a Billion Dollar App”. It’s great because we obviously trust each other and know each other really well but know when to leave work at the door”.