David Jordan interviews new entrant to the storage market ShedSpace.com to find out what it’s all about
There are a number of barriers that anyone wanting to enter the self storage business needs to overcome. First you need money, a lot of money. Second, you need a site in a place where there are enough potential customers to make it work. All you need then is planning permission and you’re all set to be the next Big Yellow. But what if you don’t have a few million in the bank, a vacant site in the middle of town and an understanding local planning authority? That’s going to take some lateral thinking and a radically different approach.
Two entrepreneurs, Adam Elcock and Grant Drummond with their financial backer Iain MacRae, have come up with a novel idea that challenges the traditional concept of using large prominent expensive buildings for self storage and uses redundant space in private houses and business premises instead.
ShedSpace.com, which launched in July 2018, is a web portal that brings people with space for rent - ‘Hosts’ - and those looking for storage - ‘Guests’ - together, enabling them to negotiate a deal.
“I used to work for a large distribution company in the UK and spent a lot of my time travelling the country looking for extra warehouse space for our customers,” said Grant. “It occurred to me that life would be much easier if there was a central portal that people and companies could go to, and the idea developed from there.”
Guests and Hosts are verified by ShedSpace using TrustID to check they are who they say they are and don’t have criminal records or CCJs, before being accepted on the platform. There is a strict code of conduct that everyone has to agree to as well as a list of items that are prohibited, such as drugs, explosives, weapons, etc. in the same way as other self storage companies. ShedSpace insures the Guest’s belongings for £2,000 and rental payments are collected weekly by the company via a Stripe account (similar to PayPal). Hosts are then paid monthly by ShedSpace after the deduction of an administration fee.
“We initially intended to operate just on the south coast of England where we live, but we quickly discovered our marketing campaigns and social media were attracting customers from all over the UK,” said Grant. “It’s not just about renting out a spare room or an empty loft, people are renting their driveways to commuters, their garages to people storing kayaks and motorbikes in the winter and farmers are offering to store caravans in their empty barns. We’d be happy to hear from removal companies with space in their warehouses too.”
While Grant and Adam’s enterprise may seem by some traditionalists as unlikely to take off, the success of companies such as Uber and Airbnb has shown there is an appetite for innovation and disruption in today’s digital world and the self storage business may well be ripe for a shake-up.
Grant commented, “ShedSpace won’t suit everyone and we don’t really see ourselves as competitors to the traditional storage companies, any more than Airbnb is a threat to the hotel industry. However, we believe there is a section of the market that has up to now not been catered for and we aim to put that right.”
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