Storemates is an online service that aims to match people needing affordable self storage with people looking to turn their spare household space into extra cash. Customers use the website to rent out all or part of a garage, loft, wardrobe, spare room to people searching for cheap storage in their local area. We have put in place a range of safeguards and contracts to make the process safe and secure to use.
Storemates plans to disrupt the ever-expanding self storage industry by offering a cheaper, greener and more community focused alternative to large commercial storage warehouses. Storemates is geared towards the many households who are challenged by the economic downturn and need extra space which they cannot normally afford. We think that commercial self storage is too costly and upgrading to a larger property is simply not an option for many.
As people are increasingly turning to the sharing and renting economy, Storemates hopes to become what AirBnB.com has become to accommodation, what ParkAtMyHouse.com has become to parking spaces and eBay has become to second hand trading. Storemates also offers a secure and easy way for individuals to earn an extra income from their household - literally, cash in the attic.
Substantial accomplishments to date
Since the 1st round of investment 9 months ago we've achieved the following:
1. Completely developed the site from beta to fully operational.
2. Increased our Google rank to page one with our chosen key words.
3. Increased registrations from a few hundred to nearly 3,000.
4. Achieved over 1,000 storage listings from all over the UK.
5. Ran a campaign in one postcode to create a local market in order to understand what marketing works for us.
6. Launched affiliate schemes with other complementary 'sharing economy' websites and a partnership offer for estate agents.
7. Remained dominant in national & local media. See our press here https://www.storemates.co.uk/press/
8. Developed a community through social media, weekly blogs and newsletters with over 3,000 subscribers
9. Increased traffic to our site by 160%
10. Established our brand as the market leader in 'storage sharing' in order to stay ahead of our competition.
The platform is web based allowing storage searchers and space providers to list and search for space for free.
Revenue are generated by EITHER charging the storage owners the first two weeks of their listed storage rates, forecast average revenue £20 per transaction, as the current version is, OR through charging each storage a percentage of their rental income (like a lettings agent) - an option we would like to test with users. Secondary revenue would accrue by premium storage listers paying £5 for a premium listing upgrade. Additional income streams planned are affiliate deals with providers of auxiliary services to self storage, packing, moving, boxes, and a bespoke insurance product. Website banner display advertising would be considered once traffic to the website grows to scale. We are also doing market research into charging storage seekers for membership to use the site.
Use of proceeds
1. Develop a payment system that encourages sales and prevents revenue leak. This will involve market research, site development and the marketing of the new feature
2. Optimise Storemates for mobile and tablet (where 29% of the market now operates)
3. Develop a whole new range of site features to improve usability, communication and trust between storage seekers and storage providers that will ultimately lead to more transactions.
4. Develop new products for our market (e.g. a left luggage service for students) by using our pool of storage options.
5. Develop a bespoke insurance product for premium users to purchase to enhance trust.
6. Improve visibility, brand awareness and sales through effective targeted marketing and PR.
7. More proactively challenge and disrupt the established Self Storage industry through promoting our low cost alternative. Just as Easy Jet and Ryan Air have disrupted the airline industry with their no frills alternative to flying.
Over 250,000 people currently use self-storage facilities in the UK (and this is growing by 14% each year).
Our target market is a percentage of these people, as well as a percentage of society currently not using commercial storage due to the high cost.
Storemates also targets households who may want to earn a second income through renting out some of their space e.g. families with lofts, spare rooms, unused garages etc - A growing market in a recession.
Characteristics of target market
The Self Storage industry is currently worth £360m in the UK with over 800 facilities. We have found that a percentage of these are open to using Storemates as a cheaper alternative, especially those looking for short term storage and seasonal items. Other pent up demand is being discovered by targeting the people put off by the high cost of commercial storage, such as students, people with young families storing baby items between children, and those wishing to declutter to sell property or create more space.
Targeted online campaign on websites where people currently search for storage, i.e. gumtree, and other local websites. Also more further testing of Google adword campaigns. A small focussed PR campaign is also planned, as well as current press strategy used in localised areas as we promote Storemates across the UK.
We have built a robust site and continue to test and improve it, with the aim of it becoming the market leader in the 'collaborative consumption' storage space. With press exposure to date we feel we are currently the only credible player in this field. We would continue to innovate and develop the user experience to ensure that we stay as the 'global leader'.
Eventually as consumers embrace the sharing economy we will also start to disrupt the still very new self storage industry in a way that low cost airlines have disrupted the airline industry.
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