Stora, a U.K.-based startup that offers an all-in-one management and sales software for self-storage operations, has raised £500,000 to expand within the U.K. and enter the U.S. market. The infusion came from a funding round led by venture-capital fund manager Techstart Ventures LLP, plus an investment from self-storage entrepreneur David Milton, according to a press release.
Stora launched three months ago, offering a web-based suite that gives facility operators a business website with integrated management software. The platform was built by StoreStuff Self Storage, which operates a facility in Portadown, Northern Ireland. The company developed its own product because it couldn’t find a single solution that provided everything it wanted, said Gavin Shields, CEO of Stora and founder of StoreStuff. “Stora is the secret sauce behind the rapid growth of our own facility business, and we’re excited to make it available to the wider industry,” Shields said.
The Stora website solution facilitates online unit reservations and payments as well as automated processes such as recurring billing and customer check-in. The facility-management system allows operators to customize the website, allocate units, set unit rates and review business metrics, the release stated.
“The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the self-storage industry’s adoption of online technologies such as contract signature and ID checks,” Shields said. “We fundamentally believe that the self-storage industry is moving online in the same way the airline, hotel and countless other industries did years ago. Not having online bookings and payments on your website will become a major competitive disadvantage as customers increasingly seek convenience and speed during the booking and move-in process. Our goal at Stora is to facilitate the shift to online for all operators.”
“I believe in the [Stora] team’s vision of an industry that is shifting increasingly online,” said Milton, who sold London-based ABC Selfstore to Shurgard Self Storage Europe SARL in 2018 for £50 million. “I have seen the technology up-close at their own facilities and believe Stora is well-positioned to not just benefit from, but drive, this shift. To have already brought on customers across the U.K. at this early stage shows the demand for a modern, web-based solution in this industry.”
Milton and his brother, John, founded ABC in 1993. At the time of sale, the company’s portfolio comprised three freehold properties in Greater London. David served on the board of the Self Storage Association of the United Kingdom from 2004 to 2009, including three years as chair.
Techstart operates in Northern Ireland and Scotland. It invests in early-stage technology businesses and startups launched through university programs. It has £50 million of equity funds and manages a £4.5 million proof-of-concept grant fund, the release stated.
StoreStuff opened in September 2019. In addition to Portadown, the self-storage facility serves the communities of Armagh, Belfast, Craigavon, Dungannon and Lurgan.
News Anyway, Self Storage Software Provider, Stora, Raises £0.5M