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Brand new startup Geek Crate based in Cape Town, South Africa, looks to bring a range of geek products to the masses. It’s an idea sure to take off during the current Geek Chic trend, made popular by properties such as The Big Bang Theory and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
The company has been founded by full-time UCT students and friends, Grant Meeser and Jordan Lambis. What they lack in years of experience, the pair have in vision, foresight, and drive.
The concept driving Geek Crate is very simple, and is one that we’ve seen before: each month customers pay a set fee and then receive a box full of different products.
Unlike conventional ecommerce, the items aren’t picked by the consumer, but are pre-selected by the store. Current South African crate (or box) systems include Ruby Box and Guy Box. While some international offerings include Loot Crate and Super Geek Box.
Local ecommerce store, Stock Box, took it a step further with a subscription service on their range of household items, but no pre-defined box.
So far, there has been no box system target towards geek products in the country, which is a growing industry both locally and internationally.
Geek Crate co-founder Jordan Lambis sees the potential in tapping into the local geek market:
We have seen that there is a whole community of South Africans who are passionate about Geek culture, but don’t have a nation wide platform to celebrate it amongst each other. We are starting Geek Crate to bring these people together through something we can all relate to and enjoy.
Meeser and Lambis have been working hard the past few months, in between their studies, getting everything in order.
While both are full-time students, they say there is balance between working and studying — when classes finish during the day they send and answer emails at night.
The pair complement each other in how the company is run and what they bring to the table. Meeser built the website and all of their systems, while Lambis takes care of the finances. To them, it’s a learning process and one they’re taking head-on.
So far, Geek Crate has signed on Readers Den, a chain of comic book stores based in Cape Town, South Africa. Due to this partnership the first crates should contain comics, pop figures, and other comic and perhaps pop culture themed merchandise.
The pair are working hard to decide what will be in the first shipment. Readers Den won’t be their only supplier of products as the two have hinted at other partnerships in the works. Supporting the local comic scene is also on the cards for Geek Crate.
Meeser stated that while the pair do not know every single geek product out there, and acknowledges the difficulty in satisfying every customer’s needs and expectations with the Geek Crate offerings, they will be working very closely with suppliers in securing the best products.
Geek Crate is confident in the knowledge of the suppliers they pair with. This will be coupled with taking in all customer feedback so that offerings can be refined. “We want to put together a world-class product that the South African geeks can be proud of,” Meeser said.
According to the pair, the customer feedback and support have been phenomenal. Within a day of launching, their sign-ups have jumped from 25 to over 150. The startup had plans to roll out beta boxes to subscribers, but have had to rethink its strategy due to the amount of interest from the general public.
After the initial rollout, the startup is looking at introducing themed boxes. Some of the suggestions from customers have included Batman and anime-themed boxes, which would help to diversify Geek Crate’s offerings and keep the company fresh.
Prices for the boxes have been set at R300, which is per box over a three-month period. After that, the offerings are R285 for six months and R275 for 12 months.
Jordan says the price is something they scrutinised over for quite some time. There had been discussion around a cheaper R100 box, but the content wouldn’t have been worth while for consumers.
The two young entrepreneurs are ambitious in their offering as the price structure includes courier shipping to anywhere in South Africa. At present, all boxes will be shipped using The Courier Guy, though they are constantly looking at different courier offerings in order to streamline the process.
Being university students, Meeser and Lambis are funding the venture out of pocket. They mentioned the difficulty in obtaining funding from banks and decided a self-funding option was the best way forward. Though Meeser briefly mentioned acquiring investors, it’s not an option right now.
Geek Crate is looking to roll out in August or early September.