By GRIFFIN GUINTA
There’s no feeling like emptying the last box, putting up the final decoration, and kicking back in your bed to admire your newly fitted dorm. By year’s end, however, this rush of elation is traded for a feeling of anxiety when it comes time to pack everything up. Many students, international and out-of-state in particular, often scramble to figure out what to do with their mountains of clothes, supplies, and other essentials before booking it for summer.
John Publicover, a senior entrepreneurship student, noticed this problem and decided to gear his new business, StoredBy, around solving it. Publicover took all the underutilized space people have in their homes (driveways, garage, closets, etc.) into account and realized there was a market for such spaces. Similar to how Uber allows regular people with cars to become taxis, StoredBy gives homeowners and apartment owners the chance to be their own storage facilities.
“Our platform connects individuals with all sorts of underutilized space,” Publicover said. If you’re familiar with the shared economy or network orchestrator companies like Uber and AirBnB, they’re bringing these industries to demands of the 21st century.”
Though not the first company of its kind– Roost and Sparefoot are also alternative storage sharing platforms–StoredBy is unique in that it’s a hybrid model. Knowing that not everyone is necessarily comfortable taking an Uber or staying in an AirBnB, Publicover’s company allows users to choose between traditional and nontraditional storage facilities, depending on their needs.
Currently, StoredBy is an online only platform. Users search the area where they want to find storage or parking and a map of vacant facilities and per diem prices appears. Each listing also contains security details, such as the type of locks and alarms that the property is equipped with. A new app for iPhone and Android is set to hit the market in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the company’s goal is to broaden their network of renters.
“Since we just launched, we’ve been calling people to get them to join,” said Kashif Sams, a junior finance major who serves as Publicover’s associate in the company. “We’ve been telling them ‘hey, if you have underutilized storage, we can bring more traffic to your business, and the sign-up is free. If the Average Joe wanted to make a little money over summer, it’s the perfect way to do that.,”
In any kind of renting scenario, security is paramount. Some may be leery of entrusting their personal belongings with complete strangers or concerned with the state in which their storage is kept. To address this, Publicover and Sams have been implementing some of the verification aspects of Uber and AirBnb, such as background checks and liability forms, and every host is identified by name as well.
“Growing up we were told to never get in a car with a stranger, but that’s exactly what Uber is,” Publicover said. “How did AirBNB overcome letting strangers into your house? That’s why it’s so important to have those verification methods,” Publicover said.
According to Publicover, the biggest perk is affordability, as he believes the business can remain competitive while still having low prices.
“We allow the free market to determine what people should charge,” Publicover said. “With self-storage facilities coming on board in the platform they can set whatever their traditional rates are. Let’s say I’m a host, I can say if X storage company is charging $50 a month, I know I have to charge less than $50 a month to remain competitive.”