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Keeping up with KeepSpace’s growth

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Keane Bourke
// The philosophy behind KeepSpace’s growth is simple: save e-commerce entrepreneurs from some of the most tedious parts of their work.

The philosophy behind KeepSpace’s growth is simple: save e-commerce entrepreneurs from some of the most tedious parts of their work.

Born out of first-hand experience with the frustrating process of managing inventory, packing and labelling orders and dealing with shipping companies, Jesse Emia founded KeepSpace in May 2016.

Since then, the company has had an entirely custom platform developed in-house, a 1,500 sqm warehouse and more than 15 customers under its belt, with an expansion into Melbourne set for next month.

E-commerce fulfilment wizard (yes, that’s his actual title) William Koo said at the core of their business model is working side-by-side with customers.

“KeepSpace is a collective of small businesses,” he said.

“We grow together and we provide a scaling solution for them in terms of storage system integration, automisation of the entire process and fulfilment.”

He said the team’s rapid growth from a 200 sqm warehouse with no power to their current size in less than three years is because of their commitment to working on unique solutions for each customer.

“We provide really good customer service and bespoke solutions as well,” he said.

Keeping up with KeepSpace's growth
The KeepSpace home page

“So let’s say some of our customers have specific prepping, they can actually request us to provide it for them.

“I believe a lot of fulfilment centres out there just provide a basic service where it’s not customer-centric and it’s not really focusing on the needs of the customer to their customer.”

Supporting growth

From their Bayswater warehouse, the team of nine keep everything running smoothly for customers of all sizes, from small operations with only a few orders a week through to companies bringing in more than $1 million each year.

William said while they offer something for any size business, their focus is support up-and-coming stores as they grow.

“A lot of small businesses who are doing e-commerce cannot scale up with really expensive shipping costs and with the volumes that they’re generating,” he said.

“So we have people from all ranges but mainly small businesses to scale up their operations.

“We do all the hard fulfilment side so they can just focus on marketing and growing their business.”

Facing challenges head-on

Despite racking up more than 10,000 orders, William said the journey hasn’t been without its challenges.

After giving plenty of pitches, the team is yet to secure external funding.

“We actually got a lot of rejection from [our pitches] because people actually misunderstood us.”

In the meantime, the team has started 2019 by raising $75,000 internally to secure their expansion into Melbourne, as they continue to educate investors.X

Teamwork makes the dream work

On the day William spoke to Startup News, a container had just arrived, packed full of boxes of tennis balls, without any pallets to help with the unloading.

Keeping up with KeepSpace's growth
The jam-packed container that greeted the KeepSpace team. Image: Supplied.

Most of the team was out in the warehouse straight away, helping to unload the shipment to keep things running smoothly for the customer.

William said this was a perfect example of KeepSpace’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

“We’ve developed a culture where we encourage everyone, it doesn’t matter if you are doing development, marketing, accounting or any sort of role, everyone must start from pick-and-pack to actually get familiarised with the product knowledge, our customers’ needs, and it actually trains you up in customer service as well,” he said.

First stop: Melbourne

As KeepSpace gears up to expand interstate for the first time, William said the new facility would give a long-line of new and existing customers added flexibility in how they manage their stock, to best serve customers.

“It actually allows us to bridge the gap between [the] west and east coast, and it’ll allow us to effectively have better market control in Australia,” he said.

“The fact that here in Perth we are located in the +8 time-zone … it allows goods from China, Southeast Asia to arrive here at a cheaper rate compared to Melbourne, and [then] we can just shoot it over to our Melbourne warehouse.”

He said the expansion into Melbourne was driven by customer demand.

“It actually comes from demand from our existing customers here in Perth, and our customers who are waiting in the pipeline,” he said.

“It also correlates with the data that [we’ve] got since the majority of customers [are] actually shipping over east, rather than locally here in Western Australia.”

Looking to the future

Looking further forward, William said the team were eyeing-off China for their next big expansion, despite challenges that would scare most away.

“It goes back to reducing the costs for our customers, and at the same time we are going to bridge the gap between Australia and China by becoming a fulfilment partner for both countries, and to clear off a lot of nonsense, going on within the logistics sector,” he said.

“It’s quite murky and it’s really regulated, that’s why it’s discouraging people to actually go international or to go beyond Australia and to actually start reaching that market.”

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To find out more about KeepSpace, click here.

Main image: Some of the KeepSpace team celebrating the move into their new Perth warehouse (supplied).

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Keane Bourke

Currently studying Journalism and Law at Curtin University, Keane has a passion for communications and marketing, and shining a light on the best and brightest startups. Since late-October 2018, he has been working on a marketing project with Unearthed Solutions.
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