Guardian’s Steve Folwell becomes MD of start-up firm LoveSpace

By Jessica Davies | News Editor

March 15, 2013 | 4 min read

UK start-up LoveSpace has appointed former Guardian Media Group (GMG)’s business development director Steve Folwell as managing director.

Folwell will be responsible for driving growth for the nationwide storage-by-the-box business which was founded by Streetcar co-founder Brett Akker.

LoveSpace is aimed at people and businesses which are outgrowing their space, offering an alternative for those who want to avoid more costly, traditional self-storage equivalents available.

Customers are sent the boxes and packaging for free, they then pack the boxes and LoveSpace collects them from their front door and transports them to a secure, regional warehouse for free. There is a minimum monthly charge of £4.95 and LoveSpace can deliver the boxes back within 24 hours.

“Just as Streetcar brought the convenience of car ownership to those who couldn’t or didn’t want to run a car of their own, the LoveSpace collaborative model will allow consumers to experience all the advantages of self-storage, without having to pay the overheads associated with renting an entire self-storage unit of their own,” said Folwell.

Once the business is more firmly established it will look to evolve the model beyond storage alone. This could include integrating with other third-party platforms such as eBay or charities to give customers options of what they can do with their items.

“People may want to give some of their stuff to charity or sell it either via eBay or elsewhere, or put their stuff with family or friends. This would accommodate that.”

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“Another exciting way we could extend it is to move from the box to the individual item. For example a person may have a pair of skis or golfing equipment they don’t use very much and we can match them up with people who don’t own any but might want to use them occasionally,” he said.

The business has a tie-up with national courier City Link, and it will look to extend the proposition internationally in future.

Folwell left the GMG last December having held a range of senior roles at the publisher over the last six years, including director of business development and brand extensions, and group director of strategy.

During his time there he played a key role in the Guardian’s global “digital open” strategy which saw the publisher grow its digital news services to reach a global audience of 70 million unique users. More recently Folwell was responsible for driving the newspaper’s video proposition, which resulted in its video viewer base growing from three million to over 11 million within 18 months.

Folwell said the UK start-up space is “intoxicating”, with a much improved funding framework now available making it easier for start-ups to get off the ground. However there remain core differences between the type of start-ups backed in the UK compared to the US, he added.

“In the UK we are happier to back businesses that have a revenue stream from the get-go, whereas in the US they are very comfortable to back concepts and platform-based businesses so it is no surprise you get products like Pinterest out of the US and very great ecommerce businesses out of the UK,” he said.

Prior to joining GMG, Folwell spent five years at McKinsey & Company working with major retailers and media companies to identify and deliver new growth. In 2000 he joined ITV, during which time he helped develop the first interactive TV service for 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'.

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