By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News
“I didn’t want to rent out a storage unit since I didn’t have enough belongings to take up the whole space,” Butler said.
Instead, she signed up with Remote Garage, a San Antonio-based storage on demand startup. It provides a storage bin and even picks up the goods.
Butler’s storing kitchen supplies, bathroom supplies, decorations and other home furnishings with them while she’s studying in China.
Last year, Jaakko Piipponen, launched Remote Garage with his friend Valdas Galdikas. And in December, they received a $25,000 investment from the Geekdom fund. Since then, they have been marketing the company and enrolling more customers while working on the technology behind the site and securing partnerships.
Piipponen is from Finland. He earned his undergraduate degree from the Helsinki School of Economics and studied abroad at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. He also worked previously for an investment bank in London and founded another startup, Kiitos Technologies, a marketing service for online videos. He moved to San Antonio in 2013 with his girlfriend. She is attending medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
At first, the Geekdom Fund turned Piipponen down, but he came back the next month with customers and partners, said Cole Wollak, spokesman for the fund. They were also convinced of his expertise in the storage market and were impressed with the beta version of his product, Wollak said.
Storage is a $25 billion market, Piipponen said. About one in ten Americans use self-storage facilities, he said. But that’s doesn’t work for everyone, especially for people who don’t have a lot to store and can’t afford to pay $1,200 a year or more for a storage unit, he said.
That’s where Remote Garage comes in, Piipponen said. It’s there for the rest of the population with smaller storage needs, he said.
“They pay by the box,” Piipponen said. “We pick up, store their stuff securely and let them monitor it online and they can get their things back whenever they want.”
Remote Garage partners with well-known, professional storage and delivery companies. It charges $7 per box for a month with the average order of five boxes.
The company does face some competition from other on-demand storage services like Makespace, a New York-based micro-storage startup that has raised $1.3 million, Boxbee, based in San Francisco has raised $2.3 million for its storage on demand service and PODS. And Austin-based SpareFoot, which works with storage companies, to fill up their space through its online marketplace, is not really a competitor, Piipponen said.
Remote Garage has been marketing the company by working with apartment leasing agents. They are seeking to fill the niche for apartment dwellers that store things on their balconies, which is usually prohibited by the complexes. Now the apartments can offer up Remote Garage as an alternative storage source. Piipponen has signed up more than 50 apartment complexes in San Antonio including The Broadway, The Crescent and Mosaic.
Butler heard about Remote Garage from her boyfriend. She decided to try them out and she’s been pleased with its “excellent customer service.” She thinks the service has a lot of potential.
“Its appeal lies in the fact that it does not require you to make a big commitment in terms of rental length, or amount of space you rent,” she said.