Peer-to-peer and B2C marketplace for space Spacer has announced today that it has closed a $1 million funding round from angel and private investors to support its Australian launch.
The startup was founded by Michael Rosenbaum (ex-CEO of Deals Direct) and Roland Tam (former private equity professional) and aims to tap into the market of under utilised assets in the community to solve consumer storage challenges.
There are a number of startups in the storage sector at the moment. Melbourne-based Boxly is connecting consumers with professional storage spaces on demand; and there are a couple of new ventures that are direct competitors like Spacelli, which connects “Space Seekers” with “Space Traders”.
However, Spacer believes it is a little different to its competitors. Unlike other storage providers, it offers a complete space solution covering a user’s indoor and outdoor needs. Everything from typical household items like furniture, sporting equipment and clothing to boats, caravans, machinery and cars can be stored by connecting with another person that has the applicable space on the platform. The startup also offers a solution to business and community clubs that are struggling with the storage of their bulky items.
“Peer-to-peer marketplaces are in the sweet spot right now,” says Rosenbaum. “Consumers want to be in control of the process, and want to be more efficient with the assets and resources in our community. We are in the early stages of a new era, the era of collaborative consumption. We also believe that businesses can participate in this new paradigm, by offering consumers access to their under utilised space which would otherwise be wasted.”
According to Rosenbaum, ‘space’ is a new tradable commodity in the sharing economy, which is not surprising given the high density living in Australian capital cities. The concept has also taken off in Europe, particularly the UK, and the US, as the collaborative consumption movement continues to grow globally. It is logical to assume that Australia will follow in the footsteps of those nations. The beauty of the collaborative consumption model is that it generates real cash for people; it can be used as a supplement to the regular household income.
“Many councils are looking at ways to get boats, caravans and other large items such as trailers off the streets to reduce congestion within local communities,” says Rosenbaum. “We are currently in discussions with a number of councils about partnerships to support their local community needs, as well as a number of sporting clubs, and industrial real estate providers to secure listings of under utilised commercial properties on the platform.”
As with any peer-to-peer network, building trust and confidence is essential. Spacer verifies every host and renter, manages the billing process on behalf of hosts to ensure timely and regular payments and offers a property and goods guarantee (essentially insurance) that protects both parties.
The self-storage market is a $750 million plus industry growing at 1.9% per year.
The new investment will be used to fast track Spacer’s growth and enhance user experience, though Rosenbaum signals that expansion into other types of spaces as well as international expansion is on the cards. Shared office, retail and commercial spaces are obvious candidates.
“Our vision is to build the number one marketplace for space. While currently our focus is a peer-to-peer offer, there is great potential to take this into new categories and markets” says Rosenbaum.
Featured image: Michael Rosenbaum, co-founder, Spacer. Source: Provided.