Time: 7:45, location: Monaco, near the Boulevard de l’Italie within sight of the sea. Jérôme starts work by taking his phone from his pocket and checking the app. His program for today: Four winter tires must go to Menton, an armchair to Antibes, a box must be picked up in Cannes and there are several stops in Nice. At the end of his tour, after he has collected all the blue plastic boxes, Lionel will drive them to the storage depot in Monaco. His workplace are the coastal roads of the Côte d’Azur, he can hardly imagine a more beautiful route. With bright sunshine and a light breeze from the sea, he enters the first destination in the navigation system of his Mercedes-Benz Vito.
Jérôme is one of eight Youstock employees. The French start-up was founded at the end of 2014. Since February 2015, they offer a storage service that goes beyond the usual self-storage concept: The customer orders a plastic box according to the size required, he documents and photographs the items to be stored and notifies Youstock that the box is ready for collection. A QR code is then placed on the sealed boxes and they are kept in a guarded, air-conditioned warehouse in Monaco. No box hauling for the customers and the items are always just a click away – when ordered Jérôme returns to the door the very next day with a blue plastic box.
The founders Alexis and Jacopo found the concept in the USA. When they were looking for a profitable start-up solution, they came across the company MakeSpace on the Internet. The warehousing service with boxes is cheaper for customers, as they only pay for the space they really need – instead of for a whole storage space. Youstock benefits from this because, thanks to the plastic box, they can accommodate more customer boxes in a limited space and thus “sell” more space in the depot.
Alexis and Jacopo met at the Lycée in Monaco. When he was 14 years old Alexis moved from Paris to the Côte d’Azur. They have been friends for ten years and are now business partners. Jérôme is also a mutual friend. In the company, they try to keep a start-up culture alive: Besides flexible working hours joint activities are especially important.
At Christmas last year they organized a go-cart race before their company dinner. But that’s not all, as with many young start-ups, modern technology is important: All inquiries are done over the Internet, each box is coded and the whole system is automated. Via an app they developed themselves they have a real time status overview of every box.
Alexis and Jacopo founded their company in Monaco. Because on the one hand, the city is their center point, and on the other, because in crowded Monaco, living space is cramped and they have discovered their concept is transferable to other large cities. Where to put not needed furniture, prams, coats or ski equipment? 65% of users are private, but more and more companies are also registering. Here, it is mainly tires and rims that Youstock stores. But what is stored in the blue boxes remains a secret as the employees of Youstock have no insight to their content. However, Alexis can reveal this much: There are more surfboards than skis in storage as the waves at the Côte d’Azur just don’t cut the mustard for surfing.
Youstock intends to expand its fleet by the end of 2017. The Vito is ideal for Monaco’s narrow streets because it is compact, agile and at the same time large enough for plenty of plastic boxes. If it is necessary to pick up larger furniture, they rent a more spacious van. Long term Youstock have their eye on purchasing a Sprinter. They remain loyal to the Mercedes-Benz brand because the vehicles are both reliable and robust. But that is not all, because in Monaco and Cannes looks count, the vehicles must not only convey boxes but also a certain image.