In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and change-makers working on innovative startups, social enterprises and SME’s around Aotearoa New Zealand.

At a glance

Founder: Max Mamaev

Business: Spacefor

Founded: 2022

HQ: Auckland

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Spacefor is revolutionising retail, bridging the gap between e-commerce and traditional brick-and-mortar stores. We offer on-demand, adaptable showrooms for direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, especially those seeking to create immersive, offline experiences without long-term lease commitments. Our flexible solution addresses the shifting retail landscape, catering to modern brands that understand the value of physical customer interactions, yet appreciate the agility of e-commerce.

Our first premium, fully-equipped showroom is located in the heart of Britomart, offering a platform for brands to connect with customers in a tangible way, with more locations added soon.

Spacefor is more than a pop-up space, it’s an all-inclusive showroom on demand that integrates adaptable fixtures, technology, retail analytics and activation support, allowing brands to focus on creating unique shopping experiences for their customers.

What’s the backstory for your business idea?

The idea for Spacefor was sparked two years ago, inspired by a mix of industry shifts and personal insights. The coworking revolution, Airbnb’s disruption of residential spaces, and the rise of D2C eCommerce brands sparked my idea for Spacefor. With a background in running a creative production company, I envisioned Spacefor as a platform for real-life brand storytelling.

Driven by the adage ‘in a gold rush, don’t dig for gold, sell shovels’, I saw an opportunity to serve and empower the new generation of online brands. To commit to the concept, I enrolled in AUT Ventures’ Innovation and Entrepreneurship course with Mike Hutcheson and Catherine Newton, developing and pitching the idea.

Following this, I spent time speaking to brands and landlords to validate the idea. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, pointing to a substantial gap in the market. We’re now open for business.

What programmes, learning or mentoring, or resources have been of assistance so far?

A big part of my journey has been about getting out there and talking to people. I made a point to connect with business leaders, people in the industry, and anyone who would listen. Each conversation seemed to have a ripple effect, creating fresh opportunities.

The AUT programme was also valuable for me. It forced me to focus on my concept, tackle different aspects of the business, and held me accountable to keep moving forward. In order to gain further insights into the industry, I also enrolled in a Property Institute Course, which allowed me to understand retail commercial spaces from the landlord’s viewpoint.

I consume quite a lot of business content, and there is a number of podcasts, books and startup themed movies that I found motivating, and kept me moving forward with the idea.


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