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Wahi wants to disrupt storage industry

Jun 30 2017 16:48

Cape Town - Wahi is a South African start-up that connects the owners of space to the people who need space – both commercial and residential.
 
Wahi means "get" in Swahili and "space" in Maori - two concepts that underpin the basis of the business. Wahi was founded by entrepreneurs Michael Hodgson and Daniel Bailey, both based in Cape Town. Together they have experience in private equity, tech and software development.

“We give property owners the opportunity to generate bonus annuity income from their spare space and also allow renters to achieve cost efficiency and convenience by converging online,” says Hodgson.

“Our main objective is to utilise technology to vastly improve the industry, where we believe it is currently inconvenient and too expensive."

They told Fin24 more about their journey as entrepreneurs.

Tell us about yourselves
 
Mike: I grew up in Johannesburg and went to boarding school at Pretoria Boys High. I studied Finance at UCT. I am the founder and MD of Hodgson Capital, a corporate advisory firm.

Daniel: I am from the Eastern - educated at Grey High School and studied at Rhodes University.

Tell us about your business

Wahi is a safe and convenient peer-to-peer marketplace for people to find and offer storage space. We connect the owners of space to the people who need space.
 
How did you become entrepreneurs?

We’ve always had a deep desire to become the masters of our own destinies, create meaningful value and hopefully leave a legacy of some sort. This, coupled with a good dose of grit, determination and a natural ability to connect the dots, drove us to become entrepreneurs.

It really was an inevitable path.
 
What gap did you see in the market?

There is a lot of unused space around us. Our goal is to reduce or eliminate those inefficiencies and give people the opportunity to participate in the monetisation of an asset that they already own. In starting Wahi, our main objective was to use technology to vastly improve the traditional self-storage industry, mostly due to our own onerous experiences with it being inconvenient and expensive.

Spare space is something many of us own (without even knowing it) and many others (often our neighbours) also need. Wahi allows hosts to generate bonus annuity income from their space, thereby becoming entrepreneurs in their own right. SA’s recession will continue to put pressure on disposable income and Wahi will help to alleviate that pressure.   
 
What were your challenges?

We are professional problem solvers – it’s what we’ve signed up to do.

Naturally, when starting your own business, you are constantly presented with challenges to overcome. You pick a destination and then find a way, regardless of what gets thrown in your path.

For us, there were many challenges, but what has stood out the most (and will continue to do so) is the inherent uncertainty. Business is an adventure and that’s the way we’ve chosen to view it.
 
What are your successes?

Getting to a point where we could finally launch this business was a huge success for us. We’re also very proud of the fact that it’s a first in South Africa.

There was a lot of hard work between idea inception and launch date, so it was a good feeling to finally get it out there. We firmly believe there will be many more successes to look forward to. It’s early days for Wahi.
 
What advice do you have for other would be entrepreneurs?

If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Honestly, our advice is that if you have something you’d like to pursue, simply take the first step towards achieving your goal. Big or small, the first step is the most difficult, but also the most important, because that is what creates the momentum you need to keep going and momentum is the lifeblood of any business (and cash flow of course).

Running is a great example to use. We’re both runners and as most runners know, simply getting out the door is the toughest part of any run, but it’s such a wonderful feeling once you’re done. Just put your shoes on and go.
 
What are your future plans?

We plan to become a very real alternative in the self-storage industry – a sustainable and profitable business that truly adds value to its customers and also creates employment in our society. We’re excited.

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entrepreneurs  |  small business
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