Vaultd, a startup business offering valet self-storage and peer-to-peer storage networking services, has launched in Ann Arbor, Mich., specifically targeting students from the University of Michigan (UM). The company recently received a $5,000 investment from Start Garden, a $15 million seed fund based in Grand Rapids, Mich., according to the source.
Using a Web platform, students can schedule delivery and pickup of Vaultd storage bins, which are then stored in a secure warehouse. Storage fees typically run $10 per bin, although customers may also pay upfront for an 8- or 12-month period, the source reported. The company also offers same-day delivery when returning stored items, although it isn’t clear from the company website if there’s a fee for this service.
UM students Brett Mecham and Mikey Shen came up with the idea while taking an entrepreneurship course. While conducting research, they discovered many students have challenges with using traditional self-storage facilities because some don’t have their own vehicles to travel back and forth to the storage property, according to the source. Student enrollment at UM in 2013 was 43,710, according to the university website.
“We drop off heavy-duty, durable boxes to students for free, and then they can fill up the boxes with whatever they want, taking as much time as they want to fill them up,” Mecham, CEO, told the source. “Once they do, they just contact us via our website, and we will come pick them up for them and take them to our secure warehouse. If they ever need a box again in the future, they can schedule a drop-off, and we can drop off whatever box they need. They never have to leave their house or their apartment.”
Their research also revealed the potential to offer peer-to-peer storage, in which users pay to use storage space at another student’s home. Customers can use the Vaultd website to list and price available space or search for host opportunities. Vaultd will pick up and deliver the storage bins to the host house. The host gets paid after returning the Vaultd items, and the company collects a commission fee, according to the website.
“Students on campus who live in a house tend to have storage space in their basement, so we are trying another model where students can store other students’ stuff if they have room,” Mecham said. “That way, these students can make money, plus also store their stuff locally on campus.”
Vaultd will use the seed money it received from Start Garden to purchase additional storage bins and acquire larger servers it can use to develop a mobile application, according to the source. As part of the Start Garden investment, Vaultd is required to participate in a monthly Update Night event to report on its progress to be considered for additional funding, the source reported.
The company is similar to other recent startups across the nation, including Boxbee Simple Urban Storage in San Francisco, Closetbox in Denver, Cubiq in Boston, MakeSpace Labs Inc. in New York City, Remote Garage in San Antonio, and Storrage Inc. in Seattle. Its peer-to-peer service model is similar to Roost Shared Storage Inc., which launched its Roost.com marketplace recently in San Francisco.