MakeSpace thinks physical storage should work more like Dropbox.
The New York startup provides a substantially better user experience than traditional self-storage offerings, argues CEO Sam Rosen. The company will drop off bins for your stuff, come back later to pick up those packed bins, and use birds-eye photography to create a visual catalog of all the stuff that’s in its storage facility. If you want your stuff back, it’ll get it back to your doorstep within 48 hours.
That’s already pretty compelling when your primary competitors are stodgy self-storage companies like Manhattan Mini-Storage, but it’s looking to further improve the experience with Dropbox- and Uber-inspired features.
Self-storage is a $24 billion industry. One in 10 people in America own a storage unit, and there are 48,500 facilities across the country. The Self Storage Association claims that it is the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the last 40 years.
MakeSpace is not the only startup in this space: Boxbee is doing almost exactly the same thing. Boxbee won a prize at the Launch festival, a startup contest, in March 2013.
MakeSpace is working on an iPhone app that will enable customers to track delivery vans’ location in real time, like they can with Uber or Lyft drivers, Rosen told VentureBeat. Through the app, customers will also be able to take photos and attach them to their bin profiles, so folks have more than a top-down shot to determine what’s in each bin.
MakeSpace has seen triple-digit revenue growth every month since its September launch, said Rosen. In April, MakeSpace racked up more new bookings than it had in September through March — combined — he told us. He declined to disclose revenues, but said the company has “thousands” of customers.
And it’s not that hard to keep those customers happy.
“We look very different from a traditional e-commerce company,” said Rosen. “For us, the transaction velocity is significantly lower than a FreshDirect or an Uber, where people need [those services] all the time.”
MakeSpace has been able to rouse the interest of several high-profile VC firms. It just raised an $8 million funding round from Upfront Ventures, Founders Fund, OATV, and others, the company announced today.
MakeSpace currently offers its delivery-pick-up service in New York, with plans to expand to other East Coast cities like Washington D.C., Boston, and Philadelphia. Its “MakeSpace Air” service covers the entire country, though it requires customers to ship their stuff through UPS.
“When we have a big hub between multiple cities, we look a lot more like an Amazon than a real estate play,” said Rosen.
MakeSpace previously raised $2.1 million in seed funding. It currently has 20 employees, and expects to hire up to 15 by the end of the year.