Stuf, a new startup that is turning basements and other unused spaces into self-storage locations, announces that it has raised $ 1.8 million in startup capital.
Co-founder and CEO Katharine Lau previously headed the real estate team of the cooperating company Industrious. She told me that she became interested in the self storage industry during the first few months of the pandemic after storing some of her belongings after a spring cleaning.
Lau lives in New York City, where she said most of the self-storage locations are "way out on the West Side Highway or the East River, quite a distance from where most people live." She added that "some of these traditional surgeries felt really sterile with those fluorescent lights."
"They were designed like morgues," she said. "You really don't know what's behind those doors."
These may not be a huge problem for people who store their things and then forget about it for months or years, but Lau said this is ill-suited for the modern consumer, especially millennial women who live in cities.
"Millennials tend to live more temporary lifestyles and visit more often," she said. “The warehouse will become an extension of your home. It's about much more than just having space for your things. It will be a useful extension of your life. "
So Stuf looks for what Lau called "the forgotten rooms that didn't generate cash flow", signs contracts with landlords to share the income, and then converts the space. The startup can range from visiting a site to opening it up for storage in four to six weeks, she said.
The result is a self-storage location that is closer to where customers actually live. According to Lao, the company places great emphasis on interior design to create a “warm and welcoming” environment that people love to visit.
Other startups are trying to reinvent self-storage with an on-demand approach where the company picks up your things for you. Lau said this is a nice consumer experience, but it creates unified economy that is "quite challenging".
Stuf's pricing is currently “on par” with traditional self-storage, and because “we're not buying buildings or signs (a traditional lease) there are some savings that we want to pass on to customers as we grow. "(When I looked at listings for Stuf's Brooklyn location this morning, the price was between $ 172.51 per month for a 10×6 foot room and $ 43 for a 5×3 room.)
The startup already has three locations in San Francisco and New York. Consumer demand is real as the initial space is 90% full within three months.
The seed funding was led by Wilshire Lane Partners and Harlem Capital, so Stuf continued to open new locations across the country. Lau's goal is to create more than 100,000 square meters of storage space in 2021.
"Stuf is really special because apart from the business opportunities, two VC funds run by Schwarz came together to invest in a company founded and run by a woman," said Henri Pierre-Jacques, Managing Partner of Harlem Capital, in one Explanation. “Katharine stood out for her industry expertise, leadership and vision. We couldn't be more excited to be out with her as she aims to transform the storage industry. "