It’s the most exciting space to disrupt on the web. It’s been either empty or impossible to find for far too long. There’s nothing static about this industry. You can do almost anything you want with this space. I am talking of course… about… storage space!
OK, so maybe storage will never grab the same headlines as Twitter or Apple, but at least one startup crew has shown that with the right spirit and concept, even vacant storage affords loads of business opportunity. Meet Austin startup, SpareFoot Storage Finder.
SpareFoot claims to have grown to become the largest inventory of storage units online. Yep, SpareFoot is an e-commerce platform for storage space, where owners can list storage units and shoppers can search for available space by location, price, unit size and amenities. Browsers can hunt for anything from climate-controlled wine storage to RV parking, compare local deals, read reviews, and rate experiences onsite. Jumping out of your seat yet?
While this sounds like a perfectly reasonable if mundane business venture, you’re probably rightly wondering what it is about the company that would warrant buzz? Named one of the “Best Young Companies to Work For” by turnstone and prized best mid-sized company in central Texas by Austin Business Journal, what’s the deal?
As you might guess of a company from the city with the slogan “Keep Austin Weird,” company culture embraces the unorthodox. Marketing: employees volunteered to participate in photo shoot for a firefighter-style pin-up calendar. As Co-founder Chuck Gordon put it: “…just another series of industry innovations.” While hilarious in its own right, the company has a heart as well as a good sense of humor. For every $20 calendar ordered by storage clients, SpareFoot donates some of the profits to cancer research non-profit Kure It.
Other attempts to infuse business with fun include storage trivia contests with prizes, offering Kanye and Kim Kardashian free storage, and awarding $500 to the best photo of a weird item placed in self-storage (in no way related to the previous item). Ingenuity and flair have earned the team investments from Silverton Partners, Floodgate, and Capital Factory.
Charm alone doesn’t translate into success of course. Special deals and $20 rebates for booking online have helped grow business. So has as astute pivot from a person-to person marketplace to the current storage platform.
Yes, even self-storage has room for “technology and thought leaders.” And when that room is a headquarters that includes a full bar and staff chef, it’s not difficult to understand why the startup is finding love from customers and workers alike.