SpareFoot : The largest marketplace for self-storage rentals
It is being anticipated that from the self-storage industry will grow at an annual rate of 3.8% from 2014 to 2019.
According to a Self Storage Association, the US self-storage industry had generated over $24 Bn in Revenues in 2013, and according to a prediction made by market research company – IBIS World, the self-storage industry is further expected to surpass the $30 Bn mark for revenues by 2019, as well.
Before we begin with the information about the company, let’s update those who are aware of what Self Storage!
WHAT IS SELF-STORAGE?
As you know, there are times when we all need some extra space; which perhaps turns out to be in the garage, basement or closet, and then there are times when these become overfull too!
There could be various reasons for an extra storage, but there’s no solution more flexible, more affordable or more convenient than Storage.
Storage (better known as: ‘self-storage’, ‘storage facility’, ‘public storage’, ‘mini storage’ or ‘self-storage’) is where businesses rent a specified amount of space, at a certain location, to customers to store their valuables. There are two principal types of storage facilities available: Outdoor / Drive-up access facilities and Interior storage facilities.
The price of the storage depends on several factors like: location, quality of the facility, size of the unit, requirement of extra amenities like climate control, time of year, etc…
These are typically storage units at dedicated locations that are rented out for a definite period (ideally month-to-month). They usually come in several standard sizes and are secured either by a built-in or a separate lock, or both.
If the tenant is not able to pay the rent, the items kept at the Storage are auctioned publically, to make up for lost rent.
WHAT IS SPAREFOOT?
Founded in 2008 by Chuck Gordon & Mario Feghali; SpareFoot is a Texas-based company that provides listings for self-storage units on rent! Basically, they are a broad marketplace for self-storage rental companies and acts as a mediator between the self-storage rental operators and consumers.
Profiled as one of America’s Most Promising Start-ups by Bloomberg Businessweek in 2011; SpareFoot is known to be one of the best and the largest online marketplaces that help consumers quickly find, compare and book a self-storage unit through the internet, without having to go through the pain.
Their website gives you the leverage to compare the largest inventory of storage options nationwide and then pick the best one that fits your needs, be it – the Traditional Self-Storage or Full-Service Storage.
SpareFoot has close to 10000 facilities to compare and choose from in the US, in which some of their offerings include: Full-Service Storage, College Storage, Car Storage, Boat Storage, RV Storage, Wine Storage, MilitaryStorage.com, Storage Pricing, etc…
Not only are they the most up-to-dated website about information on storage pricing, availability, facility amenities and more, but their free marketplace partners with thousands of facilities to offer exclusive deals and to get you the right price, while enjoying exclusive discounts as well.
WHAT IS THEIR OPERATING MODEL?
So, SpareFoot (then known as Homstie) was initially followed a model of being a person-to-person website that facilitated the rental of extra storage space in private residences, but eventually re-branded (to SpareFoot) and adopted the marketplace model, wherein they allowed customers to find, compare and review potential storage providers.
They did so because they figured that there were more storage companies signing up to sell space as opposed to homeowners.
They offered the Traditional Self-Storage facility (just like any other company) and a Full-Service Storage, wherein everything from Front door pickup, careful loading, safe transport to a modern and secure facility, and prompt return delivery is included at a self-storage price.
Let’s give you a gist of how it works…
Since, finding storage is a known pain-point, SpareFoot offers an ease-of-use service. And to use their service, all you need to do is: -
- Type in the zip code, address or intersection
- This would provide you with all the available storage units in that area
- You can also use their Advanced Search Filters which would help you to compare prices, locations, amenities, customer reviews and find exclusive deals at their partnered 10000 facilities nationwide
- Once you’ve narrowed down on the storage unit that fits your needs, you can book it online for free, with no requirement of a credit card! This can also be done by calling them on 877-687-9771.
- You have to make a payment only after you arrive at the facility and complete the lease agreement and move in
- There are no obligations, and you can cancel at any time. You can call SpareFoot at 877-691-0042 to modify or cancel your booking, as well. The portal also has an option to change the booking online itself
- Click the “Manage my reservation” button in the confirmation email you received from SpareFoot after you made the booking
- And follow the steps
WHAT IS THEIR REVENUE MODEL?
Other than advertisements, their main revenue model is as similar to that of most other marketplaces, but with a slight modification to it! The service is completely free for the consumers, while the Businesses pay SpareFoot a ‘Finder’s Fee’ for providing them with new tenants. But this isn’t a Lead-generation model. But instead, it is a ‘Paying-Customer-Generation Model’, which means that SpareFoot does not make any money until their partners/clients do.
WHAT ARE THE STRATEGIES ADOPTED BY THEM?
To begin with – since, 1 in every 10 households in the US rents a storage unit their target market is very broad, and the only strategy that can help them in their budget, is to be wherever that person who needs storage is.
Most of their marketing revolves around education. Social networks and personal connections, basically – word-of-mouth, are known to have a greater influence on consumers than any other marketing strategies, and they try their best to make use of them, to the fullest!
SpareFoot also uses Facebook, Twitter, and other relevant social media portals on a regular basis, which although, drive a decently fair amount of traffic to their site, but then, act more as platforms for brand awareness, than conversions!
Additionally, they also use these social media portals and search engines, to spread the blog articles covering storage news, renter tips, organization hacks, storage-related surveys, interesting Infographics, closet organization, up-and-coming tech hubs, etc., produced by them.
These strategies have greatly helped them to earn them spaces in Publications like TechCrunch and The New York Times.
Other than that, they also work on to educate their audience with the help of Educational Seminars at storage industry trade shows; Email Campaigns, PPC (Pay Per Click) and other paid advertising channels, SEO and Content Marketing, PR, Blogging, etc…
They have also partnered with more than 50 relevant sites including truck rental giant Penske to promote and boost cross-portal business We have built out co-brand deals with over 50 relevant websites, such as – SelfStorage.com, Penske Truck Rental, etc…
More recently, the company has also partnered with an Austin-based ad agency called – Titled Chair, to create a series of videos to promote storing goods with its tagline of “We Can Store That”, as well.
WHO ARE THE FOUNDERS OF SPAREFOOT?
SpareFoot was cofounded by Chuck Gordon and Mario Feghali in 2008. The co-founders have also been listed on Forbes’ list of 30 Under 30 in 2011.
- Chuck Gordon
Chuck is the CEO of SpareFoot.com!
He has completed his Bachelors of Arts from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and was a part of the Entrepreneurship Program at the National University of Singapore, as well.
He began his career by working with a couple of firms including Inetsolpro for about a year and a half, and Concentus Data for around a year, to gain the necessary experience.
Post these stints, he then moved on to join the entrepreneurship program, where he got the opportunity to learn about the start-up world, VC funding, etc. Basically, he learned some of the first steps of how to turn his idea into reality!
After completing this course, he got convinced that he was ready, and got together with Mario to launch the first venture!
- Mario Feghali
Mario is the COO of SpareFoot.com!
He has completed his Bachelors of Science in Psychobiology from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
While at it, he had also worked with the University, first as a Research Assistant at Brain Atlas Center, to find a link between genetic architecture and brain size, and then as a Teaching Assistant, as well.
Post these stints, he then got together with Chuck and founded SpareFoot!
HOW HAS THEIR GROWTH BEEN SO FAR?
SpareFoot was founded in 2008!
Although the venture had started while both were attending UCLA, but the concept was developed a year prior to that, before Chuck left to spend a semester in Singapore.
This is how it went!
Before leaving to study abroad in Singapore, Chuck realized that he would need storage space for his furniture and other belongings.
After researching on the internet, about storage websites, Yellow Pages and even calling every location in town, he figured that the traditional storage unit would cost him hundreds of dollars and that there was no other option. This would literally, cost him much more than the worth of its contents.
Frustrated and helpless, chuck was forced to use Mario’s residence as well as space in girlfriend’s garage, to store the items.
That’s when both the future partners got the idea of SpareFoot!
Back then – the only goal in mind was: To make storage easy. Hence, after coming back from Singapore, Chuck and Mario founded Homstie!
It was a peer-to-peer storage website that helped people rent extra space for storage in private residences and was started using funding from Family and Friends.
It was a low-cost alternative to the traditional self-storage model. Yes, they managed to garner some traction, but it certainly wasn’t enough to make the business survive and succeed! They could clearly anticipate the future.
Ultimately, they realized that if they wanted to survive and grow, they would have to throw out their current business model and start over. As much as hard, that decision sounded, the fact remained, that they had to do it!
Having said that – since this was just after the recession had hit the world, they realized that a lot of mom-and-pop storage facilities were signing up for the site! This gave the brilliant idea, and the site was quickly rebranded from a peer-to-peer model to a marketplace model and was now called – SpareFoot. The site now allowed customers to find, compare and review potential storage providers.
And since then, there has been no looking back!
Between 2009 and 2010 – SpareFoot was accepted by Austin-based incubator Capital Factory, and also took over SelfStorage.com, a portal similar to SpareFoot. Later, they also partnered with SelfStorageDeals.com, SelfStorageFinders.com, and Penske Truck Rental, as well.
Last year in 2015, it was announced by SpareFoot that they have implemented Trustpilot into their business model, and would now be using this third-party portal for gathering and displaying customer reviews on the company’s website.
More recently, the site has also introduced Full-Service Storage and Valet-Storage Services to their Searchable Database as well. The company is also expected to grow to a team of around 280, overall.
And lastly, talking about their fundraisers – SpareFoot has raised a total equity funding of about $49.35 Million from 8 Investors, including – Capital Factory, FLOODGATE, Insight Venture Partners, Kip McClanahan, Monkfish Equity, Revolution LLC, RSH Ventures and Silverton Partners.