The phrase “storage unit,” brings to mind one of two things: high-volume drug deals, or a huge hassle. Either way, not good. A startup called MakeSpace is launching in New York today with the promise of making storage ridiculously convenient, by providing on-demand pick-up and drop-off to their storage facilities in Jersey City.
To get the operation off the ground, MakeSpace has raised $1.3 million from Upfront Ventures, Lowercase Capital, High Peaks Venture Partners, and Collaborative Fund. Founder and CEO Sam Rosen is Upfront’s first Entrepreneur in Residence, a program that Upfront partner Mark Suster wrote wasn’t really formalized until Rosen came along and pitched him and the team on MakeSpace.
As Suster explained in a January blog post, the EIR receives funding to work on his or her ideas in the Upfront offices, attends entrepreneur pitches and partner meetings, helps the Upfront team review a few deals, and get introduced to other entrepreneurs.
“The choice of how much VC work and how much start-your-company work you want to do is up to you,” Suster wrote.
With the New York launch of MakeSpace today, it seems that Rosen has spent a solid amount of time on the latter.
Here’s how it works. MakeSpace drops off bins at a customer’s residence and either waits half an hour for them to pack them, or schedules a pick-up at a later date. The content of the bins are labeled and MakeSpace records which bins belong to which person before they are stored. In order to get any boxes back, the customer just has to hit “Retrieve” on the site.
The cost for four bins, each of which occupy about three cubic feet, is $25 per month. Each additional bin is $6.25. Pick-ups are free, while deliveries cost $29.
The thinking runs a little deeper than un-cluttering houses, though. MakeSpace is meant to be something like real world cloud storage, like Dropbox for real life. A service like MakeSpace allows us to be less tied down by our physical possessions, Rosen explained. When you want to retrieve something, it should be as easy as pressing a button. There’s also the potential down the line to give friends access to MakeSpace storage, as though they were coming over to borrow something.
The idea is as dreamy as apparition. To make its service happen as promised, MakeSpace works with a family-owned warehouse in New Jersey that is also used by high-end retailers like Polo Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, and Michael Kors. They also have a $2 million insurance policy in place, which Rosen described as one of their biggest expenses, to protect customers’ stuff and any employee accidents while carrying the boxes.
The startup has a van ready to fulfill pick-ups in the city, and Rosen said that their tech team is working on route optimization on the back end to help things run more smoothly. One van probably won’t hack it if MakeSpace takes off, though, and Rosen says they have access to other cars as demand grows.
Rosen said he isn’t worried about scaling MakeSpace’s operations, having brought Brandon Arbiter of FreshDirect on board as an advisor to help with driver logistics. The warehouse, too, can handle almost 1.5 million bins, he said.
“The awesome thing about how we can grow is that we start to use logic in our booking system to limit when customers do pick-ups, or charge a premium for a desired spot… There’s a lot we can do programmatically to manage our flow of pick-ups and drop-offs. We’re confident that we can use tech to scale that.”
Rosen’s previous and now-shuttered startup, SpeakerGram, participated in the first class of 500 Startups.