Need an extra square foot? You can have it. And companies that start in dorm rooms know that concept too well.
Since 2008, SpareFoot has carved out its place in the world as the largest marketplace for storage. Almost like an “Uber of Storage” before there even was an Uber to model after, the Austin-headquartered company seemed to be ahead of its time.
Now, looking back more than eight years — PYMNTS launched right after, in 2009 — the company is reflecting on how it’s kept and expanded its shelf life.
“We currently work with [more than] 10,000 storage facilities across the nation,” said Chuck Gordon, CEO and cofounder of SpareFoot, who founded the business in a dorm room with Mario Feghali. “In addition to helping them connect with a growing tech-savvy consumer pool, we also produce a ton of education and interesting data for the industry via the Storage Beat, our industry trade publication.”
The now 120-person-strong company allows users to compare storage options on the website and pick the one that’s best for them — from traditional self-storage to full-service storage, the latter launching this past year.
“Full-service storage allows you to request movers to come to your door and take everything to a storage space. All you have to do is pack up, and full-service providers will take care of the rest,” said Gordon. “Full-service storage truly embodies the SpareFoot ethos of making moving and storage simple, easy and painless.”
Sales part aside, Gordon sees this add-on as one of the company’s biggest feats, especially now that the business is in dozens of cities across the country.
“As a team, this has been a huge accomplishment, because it required hard work and collaboration from the entire crew,” said Gordon. The program will expand fully in 2017.
But expansion wasn’t always the case for SpareFoot.
“As a company, we’ve had to learn to adapt to changing market conditions,” said Gordon. “These conditions can sometimes make you fundamentally change your business strategy.”
Gordon said the company has worked well together to overcome obstacles, while being nimble, adapting and believing in the company’s mission.
“It’s hard to stay the course (or find the right one) when blindsided by something completely outside of your control,” said Gordon. “I believe we managed to overcome these hurdles because of our people.”
The company touts the many awards it’s received: garnering 15,530 reviews, plus a ranking of 9.1 out of 10 on Trustpilot.com, receiving “One of the Most Promising Startups in Austin” by the city’s Chamber of Commerce and SXSW and inking partnerships with AAA, among other accolades. The company recently secured a partnership with American Express to lower fees for Amex card users.
But even with the wider expansion, Gordon said the company focuses on the local community where the business is headquartered.
“From a community aspect, I’m also proud of the entire team for winning the Austin Startup Games three years in a row,” said Gordon. “As a result of our wins, we’ve donated over $70,000 to Kure It Cancer Research, which funds research for kidney cancer and other underfunded cancers.”
But company culture is something SpareFoot takes seriously. Gordon said there is a focus on keeping up with other contemporary companies from a no-policy vacation policy, to free lunch daily, to a flat organization, to transparency in financials, to even sending all its female employees to the Texas Conference for Women.
“Someone once told me, ‘The best thing you can hope for is to look up one day and realize you’re the dumbest person at the table,’” said Gordon. “This quote is what drives me to always hire better.”
So, after eight years in the books, Gordon said expansion still comes with gaining that extra foot in its quest to make storage simple, easy and painless.