Storably is a marketplace for parking and storage. Users can log in, list extra space they have around the house, and sell it at a monthly rate. The team launched the site in September, I came on as a Marketing Intern in October just as things were still getting started. Storably is small, very small. The office is essentially one room with four desks and a fold out table. At the desks sit our co-founders, a programmer, and our PR guy/community manager. I sit at the fold out table.
In the early weeks my job was solely based around promotion. If I wasn’t on the street putting flyers on cars, I was on my laptop listing our spaces on Craigslist and composing e-mail blasts. Eventually it became clear that we needed to come up with new methods to attract customers, it’s never easy when you have to start from zero. Our founders were able to get Storably featured on three major news networks. I remember sitting in the office one night watching our piece show up on ABC. We were anxiously waiting for the inundation of new users and questions as a result of the exposure. We were however, underwhelmed.
What was the problem? Most start-ups would kill for coverage like we had on the news. We had free advertising, not just on one network but on three, so why didn’t we see the traffic spike we were hoping for? Some of the ideas that built Storably come from a similar web service called AirBnB. They found success in allowing users to invite strangers into their spare bedrooms for a nightly price. We thought we would see similar interest for parking and storage. We later found that parking your car for a month or storing someone’s boxes in your basement is not nearly as lucrative as hosting individuals multiple times a month. On top of that our service took 5% from each transaction, it’s difficult to compete with Craigslist which takes no service charge. Our user base was growing far slower than he had anticipated, it quickly became time to decided if we would press on with Storably or come up with a new business model entirely.
We experimented with expanding to the storage market in New York, yet we still didn’t see significant traction. We decided to come up with a new plan. As we had money to last about a year it was time to table Storably and come up with something different entirely. I became involved in our brainstorm sessions. What problems could we solve for people? How could we take what we learned and apply it to something compelling. Ultimately we came up with six viable ideas. Over the course of January we spent our time researching and iterating on these ideas, eventually we had it narrowed down to just one. Then came the hard part, building a company from ground zero, again.
Stay tuned for more info on our new project in my second post. Until then, follow me on twitter. @dbudimir