We’ve had car-sharing, house-swapping, and fashion-exchanging. What’s next for collaborative consumption? How about storage? British entrepreneur Imran Azam thinks it’s silly we spend so much money storing our stuff in anonymous warehouses, and so much gas driving there. Why not just ask the neighbor?
That’s essentially the idea behind Sharemystorage.com, which allows people to rent out spare storage space. To use the site, they simply say what’s free (basement, garage), how long it’s available, and the price. Once the owner and renter agree on a price and moving-in details, Sharemystorage takes a fee of one week’s rent. Currently, rentals range from $11 to $79 a week, with $40 a typical price.
Azam says the site, which launched last year, can save storers up to 70% over commercial storage. But price isn’t the only attraction: people also want to be part of a community.
"It’s a case of people coming together in financial adversity to bypass traditional services provided by businesses," he says. "They are aware that transacting with business has a cost on the environment. A site like this ticks a lot of boxes that businesses aren’t able to satisfy."
Azam got the idea for the site when his neighbor told him he couldn’t find nearby storage. Azam told him he could use his garage--and then wondered whether he could link up other people with surplus space and storage needs.
Azam is hoping to take advantage of the growth in self-storage demand in the U.K. (the market has been growing at 15% a year), and the fact that many current warehouses are located either in richer areas of the country, or in densely populated areas. He thinks there’s an opportunity for a more local service, where people don’t have to drive long distances to deliver or pick up their stuff.
"There is an opportunity for us to bridge the services gap. It’s the same with many services, whether it’s car hire or broadband. The rural community suffers because it is not commercially valuable. Our service can come along and instantly plug that gap."