Retail

The On-Demand Alternative To Self-Storage

Cardbox Storage

Moving belongings into storage is no easy task, requiring labor, time and space that people often don’t have. Callbox Storage co-founder and CEO Kyle Bainter experienced this challenge firsthand when he was remodeling a master bedroom. He called around to find a unit to store his items and rented a truck, but wondered why it was so difficult to get items to and from storage when one can simply have paper towels delivered.

The resulting idea became Callbox Storage, a solution meant “to make storage simple,” Bainter told PYMNTS.com in an interview. Instead of having customers do the work, the company provides an alternative.

“We have a team of licensed, trained movers,” Bainter said. These team members do the heavy lifting when it comes to preparing items for storage. They pad wrap furniture as well as add a barcode and take a picture of each piece, meaning consumers “don’t have to leave their house, [or] their couch for that matter.”

At the same time, consumers might forget which items they have in storage, often digging around to locate something specific such as a box of camping gear. They can use the Callbox Storage solution to access photo inventories on their mobile devices to see all of their stored belongings, or search for items and have them delivered to their doorsteps.

“It’s very much kind of in the on-demand world that we now live in,” Bainter said.

The Business Model

Callbox Storage charges a monthly fee for its service, but Bainter said that price is generally in line with what climate-controlled storage facilities would cost. He also noted that the company’s pricing is dynamic, only charging customers based on the space they are using. The price drops when consumers take items out. The company generally stores household goods, too, staying away from specialty items like pool tables and grand pianos.

Overall, Bainter said the storage market is near surpassing $30 billion, and that there are approximately 2.5 billion square feet of storage space across the country. That need for storage comes at different points in life and is generally event-driven, he noted, including getting married or having a baby as well as home remodels. The company is also different from those that have containers dropped for storage, as Bainter said consumers still have to load them.

Callbox Storage its headquarters in Dallas, and notched $3.5 million in a venture round in March on top of $3.4 million raised in 2017. The company currently operates in Austin, Houston, Phoenix and Seattle.

“We always try to target high-growth markets,” Bainter said, adding that those locations are seeing a lot of expansion. Austin was ranked 18 on the fastest-growing city list, for example, according to a Wallethub report from October 2018, and Seattle took number 25.

Fellow storage service firm Clutter also recently received a $200 million boost. The startup is said to have a post-investment value of $600 million, and co-founder and CEO Ari Mir said the investment would help the firm expand in existing markets — such as New York and San Francisco — and come to new cities like Philadelphia. It would also help Clutter grow its infrastructure and technology, and brings the Vision Fund’s Justin Wilson to the company’s board.

Clutter customers can reserve storage spaces through the internet and, similar to Callbox Storage, have their items picked up and brought back when they want them. The on-demand storage market is a competitive one, with companies like Closetbox, LivibleMakeSpace, Omni and Trove all operating in the sector in addition to older rivals such as PODS and U-Haul. The new generation of storage firms wants to provide digital solutions, however — especially for the customers looking for on-demand self-storage alternatives.

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