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4 Successful Ways Self-Storage Startups Have Disrupted the Storage Industry

January 7, 2015

9:00 am

The most widespread reason why startups fail is a mistake in judgment on the part of their founders (more than 40 percent of all failed startups can be attributed to it). They simply try to market a product or a service nobody needs. They try to adapt the market to their idea, instead of adapting their business to the market.

Strange that it happens so often, because there are areas in which we know people are interested. One such area is self-storage. It sounds boring, yet this market is estimated to be worth  more than 22 billion dollars – and there are new companies every year that manage to tap into it using new, interesting ideas. Let’s take a look at some of the ways these self-storage startups are innovating the space.

1. Betting on Small Volumes

MakeSpace is probably the most successful of recent self-storage startups, and it owes its results to the idea borrowed from Cloud-based file storages. Instead of renting out individual storage units like big companies do, MakeSpace only provides boxes for small volumes. The company sends boxes to the client, picks up the packed items, then stores them outside of town for a fraction of a traditional storage company cost. Instead of keeping a person’s things in a separate unit where it is a pain to find something, a client never has anything to do with storing at all: all boxes are carefully catalogued and can be accessed at any time.

2. Utilizing an App to Make Clients’ Life Easier

Even something as old-fashioned as the self-storage business can benefit from modern technology. For example, Clutter, an app-based company aimed at being as convenient for the client as possible. They work similarly to MakeSpace, but eliminate the participation of the client even further: the customer opens an app, requests storage boxes, takes a photo of the items, and appoints the time for the boxes to be picked up. When a client needs their things again, they don’t have to pick them up – they simply have to tap “Bring Me My Boxes” in Clutter app, and they are delivered the next day. Clutter’s main feature is that it runs so smoothly – they own the entire process and don’t have to rely on third-party couriers, which means that clients never have to wait.

3. Starting a Library Service

BoxBee is another player in the growing “Cloud-based” self-storage industry, but with a unique twist. The company runs a library service, allowing their clients to lend the things they store to their friends and colleagues. Each client is free to arrange their inventory via the company’s website and place photos of the things they are willing to lend.

4. Stepping Away from Tradition

It is possible for your clients to store unusual things in a unit, or to use it for different purposes whatsoever. While not a self-storage startup, companies like Startup Storage Palmetto don’t shy away from using it to their advantage. For example, they offer climate-controlled facilities and specifically mention that they allow band practice in units – why not follow in their steps?

A Tip for Those Wanting to Get in the Self-Storage Space

Join a self-storage base. Most customers don’t look for individual self-storage businesses, but use online databases to find a company that will best suit their needs in terms of location, price, and usage conditions. As a newcomer in the self-storage startup market you can hardly afford a full-fledged marketing campaign, so the best move in the beginning is to register with a database of companies renting out mobile storage units and provide as much information about your business as possible – the humble fee will pay off after the first client contacts you through it.

Although self-storage business may look old-fashioned, it is a burgeoning market that can win a lot from applying new, high-tech approaches. And who knows, probably you can think of an idea to trump them all.

 

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My name is Melissa Burns. I graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays I am an entrepreneur and independent journalist. My sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented in the sphere of education. I have written approximately 2000 articles covering mentioned subjects. Two years ago, I found a startup dedicated to e-education that aggregates and presents in convenient way information concerning possibilities to study all over the web. Furthermore, it offers several exclusive free courses. Before, I used to work as an IT Project Manager for 4 years. Last two years I was working in Google as a Business Associate.

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