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Valet Self-Storage Startup Omni Enables Item Sharing, Renting Between Customers

October 19, 2018

4 Min Read
Valet Self-Storage Startup Omni Enables Item Sharing, Renting Between Customers

Update 10/19/18 – Omni now allows its valet self-storage customers to rent out their stored items, with the option to move any collected income to an XRP cryptocurrency wallet instead of a conventional bank account. XRP is a form of cryptocurrency associated with the blockchain startup Ripple. Customers who rent items can move all or part of the money they collect into cryptocurrency as an investment and then cash out later, according to the source.

When a customer designates funds for XRP, Omni will offer an average value from the top five XRP exchanges to be transferred into their cryptocurrency wallets. The user can store the value until he decides to trade it for traditional currency, the source reported.

"We think of Omni as a tool for unlocking liquidity. Rentals give you the ability to unlock value while still maintaining that asset, " McLeod told the source. "Now [with the XRP integration] you can also look at one of your items as an investment, and then double dip into another investment off the back of it."

Omni’s move to integrate with cryptocurrency is connected to a recent $25 million investment it received in XRP value from Ripple executives Chris Larsen and Stefan Thomas. "Having a strategy for how you want to work with some degree of crypto is important for almost any startup at this point," McLeod said. "This is us dipping our toe in with a partner that has worked with us in the past."

The company intends to create additional tools for business customers who rely on rental income from items in storage, such as costume rentals. It also is examining expansion to other cities. It began operating in Portland in September.

6/20/17 – Omni, an app-based startup specializing in valet self-storage services in San Francisco and parts of the Bay Area, has added item-sharing capabilities for its users. Items stored by customers are categorized as “personal” by default, but the new functions allow users to relabel and share their belongings. Goods can be designated for borrowing by “friends”—Omni members who have connected through the company’s platform—or made available to the entire user base, according to the company website.

Customers looking to borrow items can do so by searching selections from their friends or the total community. When they see an item they’d like to use, they can request it by clicking a link and entering the dates they wish to borrow. They also can include a note to the item’s owner. The owner is then asked to approve or deny the request. If he approves, he temporarily transfers the item to the borrower’s account. Finally, the borrower schedules the item for delivery and return by Omni staff.

While other valet-storage operators have concentrated on by-the-bin storage and delivery services, Omni launched 18 months ago behind a storage-and-fee model geared toward individual items. Once customer goods are collected, staff members photograph and catalog each item or closed container and upload the images and information to the customer’s account. “We positioned ourselves as a storage company, knowing that [itemization] was a Trojan horse,” Ryan Delk, vice president of product and growth, told the source.

Since launch, Omni has itemized more than 100,000 items from its customers, with 29 percent categorized as “home goods and tools,” 25 percent as apparel, and 13 percent as sports and recreation, the source reported.

When Omni received $7 million in investment last year, CEO Thomas McLeod indicated the company was examining sharing and sales capabilities. It launched the sharing service to the entire customer base after a beta test run with limited users.

Enabling the sale of items between customers is still a possibility. Some users have already leveraged the platform to sell items to other customers by ushering payments through PayPal and Venmo, a mobile payment service owned by PayPal, according to Delk. By openly enabling sales between customers, Omni could potentially take a percentage of payment, the source reported.

Omni offers pickup and delivery of stored items and targets urban customers who don’t have storage room in their residence or may not have transportation to a traditional self-storage facility.

Business Insider, This Self-Storage Startup Lets You Take Your Extra Stuff and Rent It to Strangers for Cash or Cryptocurrency
Omni, Website
TechCrunch, Storage Company Omni Now Lets Users Share Their Belongings With Friends

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