Fort Collins startup wants to be 'AirBnB of storage'

Posted at 9:58 PM, Jan 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 00:29:42-05

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Here's a good idea: Connect people with extra space to people who need a place to store their stuff.

Yes, there's an app for that. 

Stow, a Fort Collins startup, wants to be the AirBnB of storage, listing everything from basements to warehouses, and garages to boat parking.

"People aren't looking for storage to be this life-changing experience, they just want something that's fast, easy and the least-expensive as possible," said Devin Eldridge, the CEO of Stow. "And that’s what we provide — you get on there, find a space within minutes, register and it’s about 20 to 40 percent less than a traditional storage option." 

So far, the app only has about 20 listings, and it is still working out some of the early bugs. But people who have used it say it was worth it.

"I desperately needed a storage unit because I had an emergency move," said Lynne Schoen, who was looking for a fast place to store her belongings while she stayed at an AirBnB.

She found Jordan Smith's Fort Collins garage listed for $110/month.

"It’s just really accessible and convenient as compared to a storage facility," said Shoen, who said she wasn't worried about leaving her things in a stranger's garage. "But then, I’m very trusting. I give people the benefit of the doubt." 

Meanwhile, Smith said he wasn't really using his garage space, but could use the extra spending money.

"It’s kind of a crazy idea, especially when you have some potentially random person storing their stuff in your garage," said Smith, who said the process was simple and the money is deposited directly into his bank account. "That really helps with random emergency expenses and just kind of helps add to the savings account. It just makes sense."

Eldridge said the company verifies identities, but does not do background checks -- yet.

It is also looking into possible insurance guarantees, Eldridge said, similar to AirBnB, but they are not yet available.

"Right now, your homeowners or your renter’s policy will cover your items typically, no matter where they are," said Eldridge. "But we also realize there could be a gap in your insurance, so we’re trying to bring on a few new insurance partners that could help us provide some sort of base guarantee for people."

Eldridge said that hosts can set hours and terms, and have the right to see what's on their property.

"If they have a garage, they can go and check and be sure there is nothing that’s going to be damaging or could get them in trouble," he said.

Stow charges the renter a 15 percent fee and is only available in Colorado, but Eldridge has plans to expand nationwide.

"There is a little bit of a storage shortage, actually, throughout the nation," said Eldrige. "It's hard to find storage and we’re just there to add another option for people when they’re looking for it."


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