Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
A previous venture, and e-commerce platform, failed. Genest belonged to an entrepreneurship group and was looking for the next big idea when a friend suggested an idea he saw in Arizona, about renting crates out to movers. Genest thought about his own moving experience to an apartment in Rosslyn, and knew right away the idea had legs.
He bought 10 crates and a dolly and launched a website. ValueCrates was born.
The idea is as simple as can be: for $19.99, someone moving can rent 10 plastic crates and a dolly. You can rent 25 crates for $29.99, 35 crates for $34.99, 50 crates for $49.99 and 75 crates for $79.99. The crates can be held for a month and are delivered and picked up for no extra charge by Genest himself.
Genest started with just the 10 crates and dolly when he launched in October 2014, and he said he’s been sold out since the first weekend.
“I knew the business made such good sense that I had to try it,” he said. “I’ve turned down over 1,000 crate orders because I’ve been sold out. This was achieving a level of success I hadn’t achieved before.”
Genest didn’t launch ValueCrates with a startup blueprint: build a value proposition, create a minimum viable product, beta test it and always build to scale. Instead, he launched as soon as he could and was glad to do things inefficiently early on. Many business advisors might pull their hair out hearing how many customers Genest has turned away; Genest said he’s been focused on keeping the customer’s he’s had happy.
“I meet every one of our customers,” he said. “I get to talk to them and see how we’re helping them. I ask them questions about the business, and they feel, and I know, that they’re not just numbers.”
Each crate is 23.5-by-15.7-by-12.4 inches and can hold a maximum of 80 pounds. Genest offers one size crate and one size dolly, keeping his costs and options simple, and keeping prices low. When he’s asked customers what they think of the price, some have said he should raise it.
“They say ‘I feel like it’s unfair to you,'” he said.
Despite the low prices, ValueCrates is profitable and completely bootstrapped, Genest says. It’s still run out of his apartment, which would be more of a problem for he and his wife if the crates weren’t consistently sold out. Despite Genest’s satisfaction with building a company without regards to scale or efficiency, it’s a situation that cannot last.
Now the successful entrepreneur is in the market for storage space and is in talks with manufacturers in China. He’s been buying crates and dollies from Home Depot to this point, not a practical solution considering he eventually has eyes on servicing multiple cities. He says that’s still a ways away.
“My ultimate goal is to get D.C. right,” he said.
Genest is still telling too many customers for his liking that he has no crates available — “turning down orders sucks,” he said frankly — so he’s looking for $200,000 in investment to scale faster.
ValueCrates has strayed from the traditional startup blueprint, but Genest thinks there are lessons he’s learned that can translate to any business.
“I learned it’s OK not to be scalable and profit-focused right away,” he said. “I would have made mistakes, would have rushed it … the only reason I’m successful is because of the mistakes I’ve made in the past.”
A march against drugs drew a large crowd of parents and community members to Wakefield High School, where a student died this week.
Arlington County police responded to an unusual incident on Route 50 this afternoon. It happened around 1 p.m. at the intersection with Park Drive, near the Arlington Forest Shopping Center…
Building a new home should be a rewarding and memorable experience. That’s why a custom-built home requires personalized service! Here’s your chance to learn everything you need to know about…
An 18-year-old Arlington man is behind bars after police say he snuck into Wakefield High School yesterday to confront a student, triggering a lockdown. Kenan Owens was arrested around 1…
The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.
Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.
About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.
The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village