M3storage is a start-up born in Chile in 2013 and founded by Frenchman Dom Teysseyre. The self-storage company rents storage boxes to individuals and companies. Its mission is to offer a flexible service with the highest standards of security, technology and quality.
It currently has 75 branches in Chile, Colombia and Brazil. Locations range from large industrial-type warehouses that include wide access for trucks and container movement to small spaces and pickup stations located in city centres, such as shopping centre car parks, premium “A” buildings and even hotels.
M3storage owns the only digital self-storage platform in the world, offering full check-in and check-out with integrated digital key access control. This facilitates user autonomy, as they can share the platform with other people and open the doors of their self storage from their mobile phone, remotely.
M3storage is setting up in Mexico in 2021 and will soon cross the Atlantic to conquer Europe. In Spain it has won the ICEX-Invest in Spain’s Rising UP in Spain programme, focused on attracting foreign entrepreneurs who want to establish and grow in Spain. The selected start-ups receive resources to develop their business in the country. M3storage was selected out of 350 applicants.
M3Storage was created in 2013, how has it changed since then?
We started out in 2013 in Santiago de Chile by constructing a storage centre with a traditional format. This first experience left us with the feeling that we could optimise the business model by making it more agile and modern. This path led us to an important turning point where we stopped thinking of ourselves as real estate investors and focused on developing the technology that would allow us to operate storage rooms remotely, without on-site employees. We were thinking of a versatile model with maximum scalability potential.
Today, years later, we are about to open our 100th branch; we exported the business model from Chile to Brazil, then to Colombia and Mexico and finally here to Spain. Today we are a solution for reactivating derelict spaces and transforming non-productive areas of quality buildings into storage spaces for individuals and companies. We clearly represent the evolution of the storage business and focus on offering a flexible and attractive solution for last-mile logistics.
Our value proposition is proximity and technology. We are the “Uberisation” of self-storage. We offer a 24/7 fully digital check-in and check-out experience with integrated access through our app. The digital platform is our own and has been developed by our integrated IT team.
And how has the market done? What transformations have you noticed and how have you adapted?
We have adapted with flexibility and innovation to our customers’ requirements. First, by multiplying our locations to be closer to our customers, by introducing competitive prices. We are now directly integrated with e-commerce platforms (such as VTEX and Shopify, for example) to deliver last-mile storage solutions in the heart of cities.
Bringing products closer to their recipients means shortening the last mile, thereby reducing the number of trips and journeys. This contributes to creating smart cities, reducing emissions. The purpose is to have a positive impact on our surroundings and the environment. We recently set up a storage and pickup space in Paraísopolis, the favela of São Paolo. The impact there was dramatic: we provide a meeting point, a bridge, between the favela population that has no address (and therefore cannot receive home deliveries) and the world of e-commerce.
During this time, Covid has marked a before and after across the world. What did it mean for you at a working level? What was your experience of it and where are you now?
Covid was clearly a disruption. Now, in our business activity, it revealed changes that we had identified before the pandemic. The growth of e-commerce, the shrinking of traditional retail sales areas, empty car parks in city centres, etc. There are so many phenomena that we saw before Covid and that motivated the creation of our business model. Today, we believe that change is still underway. The last mile is looking to its future, its adaptation to a more environmentally friendly world. With our technology and our business model we are generating activity in existing spaces, without the need to build or construct more. Obviously, it is an ideal solution for property owners with non-productive space. We operate in shopping centres, supermarkets and businesses, hotels, student residences, co-working spaces, multi-family accommodation, etc.
What would you highlight about your clients? What is their profile? How do you reach them?
While the growth of last-mile logistics requires constant support and special attention — and we believe it will soon be the main source of business for our industry – we remain attentive to the needs of our traditional B2C customers. From being an alternative for renting space to store unused belongings and seasonal clothing or sports equipment for the family or storage space for the office, we have become a space for e-commerce. First for small entrepreneurs, but today for larger businesses and companies that require strategically located spaces across the city to optimise travel time and costs. Our strategy has been to generate digital sales by concluding business online.
What do they value most about your company? Why do they choose you?
M3storage’s vision is to take advantage of empty or unused spaces in the city to set up smart storage spaces: close to people, with autonomy and security. Our boxes are rented online, without any paperwork, 24/7, and clients can access them independently using the app. They can also share access with users of their choice. We are located in the best buildings in the city with the best security. Using an M3storage box means having your storage on your daily commute, close to where you live, work or shop.
What are the implications of working with a digital key?
Our app enables safe, controlled entry to the boxes from the palm of your hand – via your mobile phone – and remotely. Our digital key can be shared with whoever the user likes, with 24/7 access to most branches, allowing you to control flow and schedules. This is a commitment to our unique selling point in the market: bringing storage closer to people and companies as well as giving them autonomy of use according to their needs. The logistics are changing, especially within the city; the customer doesn’t have to wait, you have to be close and without tasks or intermediaries that take up time.
Do you plan to introduce any further new developments or innovations that you can tell us about?
Yes, we are working on several areas: one is to improve the experience of using storage. We incorporate technology to enhance the customer experience. For example, we have started to add monitoring options that the customer can view from their phone: temperature sensors, humidity sensors and video monitoring as well. Our technology also allows us to offer B2B solutions for the last mile, such as pick-up stations or return stations. In the latter case, we are offering controlled spaces for retail, to direct and group returns of online purchases. It is important assistance for the end customer and a way to reduce logistics costs for the retailer.
What would you highlight about Rising UP in Spain? Would you recommend it to other start-ups in your region?
The programme is very well thought out. It clearly provides major support when deciding to set up in Spain. ICEX does in addition have great prestige in the country and is a seal of confidence; it clearly helps us when it comes to making first contact in Spain.
Why did you decide to apply and approach the Spanish market?
M3storage works with several European companies with a presence in Latin America. We have fitted out several properties belonging to major groups, especially French ones. So the decision to try to set up shop in Europe was a natural one. Spain even more so because of the language. And when ICEX opened the door for us, the decision to come and invest here in Spain was quite easy.
How was your arrival in Spain? What differentiates you from other platforms that already offer this service?
The self-storage market is much more developed in Spain (and the rest of Europe) than in Latin America. But our platform is unique in the market. We offer a unique experience and this is an important competitive advantage. In addition, we are seeing that the prices of existing storage units are very high. We can take advantage of our model to make the service cheaper and surely open up the service to customers who did not have access previously because of its current high cost.
Where are you at with regard to expansion into other countries/continents beyond Spain?
We are already present in Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. We are looking at some opportunities in Peru. In Europe, we are actively working in Spain (looking at spaces in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and several other cities in the country) and in Portugal. We want to confirm that our model is well established here in Europe as well. I hope it will be the starting point for even greater expansion.
How did you get started in terms of funding? Who supported you? Who is supporting you today?
The company is profitable. All growth to date is self-funded. Now, with the acceleration of the expansion plan, we are thinking of opening up to external resources. We are just starting to talk to potential investors or lenders now.
What are your objectives in this respect and in terms of turnover and growth for the coming years?
We currently have a growth rate of 100% per year. We want to maintain this pace for the time being until we are able to accelerate growth even further. Our five-year plan is to have 2,000 branches, a similar number to the world’s leading self-storage company.