Space is at a premium, especially when it comes to city living, and startups are fighting over who gets to store your stuff.
The premise is the same: Crowded customers can request a pick up to put their items in storage instead of renting a unit of their own. The items are photographed and put in an online catalog as they’re whisked away to a storage facility.
When a customer needs their winter clothes back, it’s as easy as a few taps in an app to select it to be returned to you.
Where the startups differ, though, is in what they can accept.
MakeSpace accepts items that can fit in bin that can hold hold up to 40 pounds. Any larger items, like your suitcase or golf clubs, is an additional item per month fee. It can accept furniture in two cities, but that requires an extra quote. Boxbee, a Google Ventures-backed startup, used to focus on only box-sized items. It’s already pivoted in the last year to be a software company for other on-demand storage companies.
Clutter, an L.A.-based startup, started with the same box model, but quickly pivoted to take all sizes of objects using professionally trained movers – a decision the company made once the first customer asked if Clutter could also take her lamp, said cofounder and CMO Ari Mir.
“Your life doesn’t fit in a box. The hard thing to do is to move an eight-piece sectional couch or a marble table,” Mir said. “We pride ourselves on not necessarily doing what’s easiest for us, but with the goal of what’s the most convenient service for the customer.”
While it’s been nicknamed an ‘Uber for storage’ like the rest of its competitors, Mir disagrees with the term because it normally implies that any driver can join the company’s workforce. While Clutter does have Uber-esque features, it requires a different level of expertise to work for the startup, which resembles more of a moving company than a pack-and-go.
“If you see robots and autonomous vehicles being the future of Uber, I don’t think you’ll see robots moving an eight piece sectional couch,” Mir said. “There’s always going to be a subset of the labor force that is specialized and trained, and that’s where our core competency is.”
The startup has raised a new $9 million Series A round from Sequoia Capital to put more money into expanding to new cities and hiring more workers to meet demand. Currently, the startup only operates in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but it has plans to expand into half a dozen more cities in 2016.