Way back when, before the internet, smartphones, and “Jersey Shore,” having to find the right storage space was something we wouldn’t even wish on our worst enemies. The hassle of having to flip through the Yellow Pages, cross-check every storage facility for price and cost, and make sure the space didn’t smell like an oft-used dumpster was something that made the experience simply horrible.
One company, however, has transformed the storage industry by doing all the work for you. Meet SpareFoot, the brainchild of UCLA graduates Chuck Gordon and Mario Feghali. They’ve created a website that shows you the best storage options in your area and sorts them by cost, size, user reviews, and other amenities like 24 hour access or climate control, thus helping you find the right storage space and helping storage facilities fill their units. What was once a painful experience is now as easy as your ability to type “www.SpareFoot.com” into your web browser.
“We have more than 7,000 storage facilities listed on our network, and that inventory grows every day,” said John Egan, editor-in-chief and wearer-of-many-hats for SpareFoot. “Ours is the most robust listing of any online storage marketplace in the U.S., and we’re always adding functionality to make the online self-storage experience even smoother.”
SpareFoot has united a fragmented self-storage industry with an easy-to-use website and a seamless service; however, the company certainly has humble beginnings. Created in 2007 when Gordon was heading off to Singapore to study abroad and needed a place to store his belongings (he found some space in Feghali’s home and his then-girlfriend’s garage), he came up with the idea of person-to-person storage, where people could rent space in their home or office to people needing storage space.
“The original concept was born as Homstie, but that business model didn’t gain much steam,” explained Egan. “However, storage facilities began approaching Chuck and Mario about listing their properties on the Homstie website, so the business model pivoted to its current version and the company’s name was changed to SpareFoot.”
Sweet Home Austin, Texas
Possibly the biggest turning point for SpareFoot was making the move to Austin, Texas in 2009 to join Capital Factory, a startup incubator. Although Silicon Valley has the glitz and glamor of the startup community and Santa Monica’s startup community is on the rise, it’s clear that both the startup community and the city of Austin have helped shape SpareFoot into an industry leader.
“One of the best things about working in Austin is the entrepreneurial spirit here,” said Egan. “So many business veterans are willing to share their knowledge and insights with Chuck, Mario and other people at SpareFoot. Another great thing about being in Austin is the tremendous talent pool available here. Plus, Austin is just a great place to live, although we do suffer our share of growing pains, including the ever-worsening traffic.”
Bad traffic aside, and let’s be real here – we’re Angelenos who know a thing or two about traffic – Gordon and Feghali have helped develop a company culture that most startups could certainly learn a thing or two from.
“As for the SpareFoot team, we are a passionate, driven group of collaborative, cooperative professionals who are all focused on the same goals — building a great company and improving the self-storage experience,” said Egan. “One of our company’s mottos is ‘Word hard, play hard,’ and we live and breathe that motto every day.”
With $26 million in venture capital and almost 120 employees, one would think that SpareFoot has surpassed the “startup” label and is already living in the future. However, Egan still calls it a “scrappy startup-style environment,” and that they aspire to be the “Hotels.com of the storage industry.”
“We want to make the SpareFoot experience become even better for our self-storage customers and our facility clients,” said Egan. “From a consumer perspective, we continue to seek ways to improve self-storage shopping and booking. From a facility perspective, we keep plugging away to find ways to make owning and operating a self-storage facility even more profitable and more simple. The future holds a tremendous amount of promise for SpareFoot.”