Thinking inside the box

Janice Gambaccini and her sister Stephanie Zimmermann launched a successful business by thinking inside the box. “Finding a box should be a simple thing,” Janice says. But on one rainy moving day in 2011, it was that hard. “I was moving and needed some boxes pronto,” she recalls. “But it was raining, and I didn’t want to go out to look for them.” Janice searched the Internet to no avail. There were no boxes to be had, online or off. “Out of this incredibly frustrating day, the idea for Lend A Box was formed,” she explains.

The sisters charted their concept on paper and started making plans. Lend A Box opened for business and made its first deliveries in 2013. “Lend A Box takes the stress out of moving and helps you along the way,” quotes a company slogan. “We offer a service, not just a product,” reiterates Stephanie.

Janice and Stephanie attended a class, Things to Consider When Launching a New Business, at the Mason SBDC in Fairfax. “We liked what we saw at the SBDC but didn’t take advantage of all their services immediately,” Stephanie notes. “We were too focused on getting the business open.”

Three years later, Janice looked again at the SBDC’s offerings. “I reached out to Timm Johnson at the Mason SBDC,” she relates. “We wanted to start growing the company, and we needed to get a loan from the bank. Previously Stephanie and I had funded everything. Timm helped us to create an amazing financial story so the bankers could see where we were and what we were planning to do,” she continues. The business plan was presented, and Lend A Box obtained the loan. “It’s essential to have a business plan that paints a picture of where you are and where you’re going,” she adds.

“The Lean Business Start Up class inspired us to launch additional services,” Janice adds. “One we call ‘concierge storage,’ which means you don’t have to manage storage. We pick everything up and catalog it online. When you need your holiday decorations, just call and ask for boxes 5, 6, and 7. We’ll deliver them. And, when the holidays are over, we’ll put them back in storage for you.”

Lend A Box also added moving and packing to its services. “We move for you, unpack, and then pick up the crates,” Janice says. “If there’s a gap, we’ll hold boxes in storage until you’re ready for delivery. It’s a nice seamless experience.”

The sisters are more than pleased with their connection to the SBDC. “It was such an amazing load off my shoulders when I found Timm and realized I didn’t have to figure everything out on my own,” Janice concludes. “There are experts at the SBDC, who will spend time with me and help me figure out what I need to do. It’s a huge, really fantastic resource.”

Virginia SBDC