Toronto-based startup OpenUnit Inc., which offers a suite of software-style operational tools for self-storage operators via an e-commerce platform, has raised $1 million in a seed round that included investment from several sources including angel investors, venture-capital firms Advisors.Fund LLC and Garage Capital, and real estate firm Insite Property Group, which operates the SecureSpace Self Storage brand. Jonathan Wasserstrum, co-founder of SquareFoot, also invested. His New York-based firm specializes in commercial real estate technology, such as an online real estate search tool and concierge services, according to the source.
The funds will be used to more quickly serve more than 800 self-storage facilities on its waiting list and explore new opportunities, such as providing loans to owners who wish to expand or renovate. Co-founder Taylor Cooney also indicated the latest round was about establishing strategic partnerships. Of the more than 20 investors who participated, six are connected to the self-storage industry, including former and current owners and a “director” with the Canadian Self Storage Association, the source reported.
OpenUnit last year received $150,000 in pre-seed funding from Y Combinator, a U.S.-based startup incubator and seed-money platform, which it used to help launch and expand its offerings. Since that round, the company expanded its staff to five and acquired the intellectual property of fellow Y Combinator startup Affiga, a service designed to automatically provide new-customer insights following transactions, according to the source.
“As self-storage companies move services like rentals, leases and payments online, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to ‘know’ their customers,” Cooney told the source. “We see the integration [of Affiga] into our product as a way to help self-storage operators bridge the gap between their online and in-store customer experiences, where the personal touch tends to be lost.”
Similar to Shopify, the OpenUnit platform offers self-storage operators a series of operational tools for accounting, customer relationship management, online marketing, online rentals, payment processing, revenue management, staff communication, unit inventory, Web security and more. There are no general service fees, though OpenUnit does receive 2.9 percent of all credit card payments for online rentals and automated billing, plus 30 cents per transaction, according to its website.
TechCrunch, OpenUnit Raises a $1M Seed Round to Be the Online Face of Self-Storage