Web Startup Spacer Launches Peer-to-Peer Self-Storage Marketplace in Australia

Update 11/16/15 – Spacer has completed its trial phase and is officially open for business. The peer-to-peer self-storage marketplace is continuing to negotiate with Australian municipalities and commercial-property owners to stir up interest and increase storage listings.

Update 11/16/15 – Spacer has completed its trial phase and is officially open for business. The peer-to-peer self-storage marketplace is continuing to negotiate with Australian municipalities and commercial-property owners to stir up interest and increase storage listings.

"Through Spacer we seek to better utilize unused space assets that exist in our community, while providing space sharers, or hosts, with additional income, and space renters with more affordable and convenient storage in their neighborhood," Rosenbaum said in a press release. “We are currently in discussions with Warringah, Manly, Marrickville and Kuring-Gai councils about partnerships to support their local community needs, as well as a number of sporting clubs and industrial real estate providers to secure listings of large commercial properties on the platform to support users that have bigger storage needs."

Company officials believe they can exploit a rising need for boat and RV storage. Boat ownership in Australia is growing 4 percent per year, while RV ownership is increasing at a 5 percent annual rate, Rosenbaum said.

Bolstered by the $1 million it raised from angel and private investors, Spacer is already looking to expand its services to other spaces including commercial, farmland and other venues. Officials intend to also expand the company internationally, the release stated. “Our vision is to build the No. 1 marketplace for space,” Rosenbaum said. “While currently our focus is a peer-to-peer offer, there is great potential to take this into new categories and markets."


10/13/15 – Spacer.com.au Pty. Ltd., a peer-to-peer self-storage marketplace, has launched in Australia. The startup enables people in need of storage to find available space in their local area from businesses and homeowners. All rental payments are made through Spacer, which collects a 15 percent commission, according to a source.

Founders Mike Rosenbaum and Roland Tam compare the Spacer storage experience with AirBNB and other popular, peer-to-peer platforms that are part of what’s known as the “sharing economy,” a method of using social media or online tools and technology to match buyers with consumers seeking goods and services such as room rentals, errand running, vehicle loaners and self-storage.

“In an ever competitive and expensive world in which spare rooms, idle assets or car rides are being shared for cash, spare household areas are an overlooked yet very valuable resource,” according to a statement on the Spacer website. “Spare space is something many of us have (without even knowing it), and many others (often our neighbors) also need.”

Homeowners and businesses interested in renting out space can create a listing that includes photos and a description of the area for rent. They may assign rules stipulating when renters can access their goods and place limitations on what may be stored beyond a listing of banned items provided by Spacer. When someone makes a storage-booking request, the space owner can review the application and discuss details and concerns with the renter before confirming.

All hosts and renters are subject to a third-party vetting process to verify identity through social media, credit checks and security agencies, according to the company website. Spacer also carries indemnity insurance to cover public liabilities and issues a “Property and Goods Guarantee,” which insures property up to $5,000 in case of damage or theft.

Spacer recently raised $1 million from angel and private investors, which the company will use to market the brand and build listings during the next year, according to Rosenbaum. The company amassed about 50 listings in the last month during a trial phase, a source reported.

Spacer is negotiating with municipalities and commercial property owners to stir up interest and increase storage listings. One target area is boat/RV storage. “Many councils are looking at ways to get boats, caravans and other large items, such as trailers, off the streets to reduce congestion within local communities,” Rosenbaum told a source. “We are currently in discussions with a number of councils about partnerships to support their local community needs, as well as a number of sporting clubs and industrial real estate providers to secure listings of under utilized commercial properties on the platform.”

Rosenbaum believes cheaper alternatives to traditional self-storage could create a $3 billion industry in Australia, a source reported. Suggested monthly rental rates for those who offer storage through Spacer are $150 to $250 for attics, backyards, bedrooms and driveways, and $200 to $350 for garage space, according to the company website.

“Space is the new tradable commodity in the sharing economy, which is not surprising given the high-density living in Australia’s capital cities,” Rosenbaum said. The entrepreneur serves as CEO and has experience building tech startups, including DealsDirect, an online shopping website. Some investors who backed DealsDirect have also invested in Spacer, Rosenbaum told a source.

Co-founder Tam serves as non-executive director. He’s a former venture capitalist who also works as a strategist for Cover-More Group Ltd., a travel-insurance provider, according to a source.

The startup is similar to peer-to-peer storage websites RovingBox.com and StowThat.com, which launched in the United States in 2013.

Sources:

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