Launched by real estate developer Alan Mruvka (pictured at top), co-founder of the E! cable TV network, StorageBlue aims to be the next big star in self-storage.
Mruvka wants to rapidly expand StorageBlue from its current portfolio of four facilities and is raising $100 million from investors to help make that happen. Real estate financing firm Cooper-Horowitz is handing the fundraising.
“I didn’t come back to New York to run four buildings. I’m a brand builder; my goal is to come and grow this new brand very large nationwide,” Mruvka told The SpareFoot Storage Beat.
The New York City, NY, native recently moved home from Los Angeles, CA, where he had enjoyed success as a media entrepreneur and film producer.
Mruvka had been a partner in American Self Storage, a brand founded in 1986 in the New York market. Mruvka recently took control of American’s four facilities in New Jersey as part of a partnership split. The StorageBlue facilities are in Union City, NJ; Jersey City, NJ; and Newark, NJ. StorageBlue’s headquarters is in Jersey City.
American now operates 10 facilities.
Mruvka is hunting for expansion opportunities as he plans to take the StorageBlue brand nationwide. “We are looking for portfolios all over the country,” he said.
Mruvka mentioned Austin and Houston, TX; Cleveland, OH; and South Florida as target markets. He also plans to seek development opportunities in the New York metro area.
“New York is the holy grail of self-storage,” Mruvka said. “It’s a very tough market; everything is built up. But you can go outside the city and do ground-up.”
Customer service first
Mruvka said he wants to disrupt the self-storage industry by offering unparalleled customer experience. “There are a handful of terrible customer service experiences out there, and self-storage has to be the worst,” Mruvka said.
Part of the pain comes from having to lug your belongings from, say, your home to a storage unit, according to Mruvka. To address that, StorageBlue offers help to pick up a tenant’s items and load the storage unit.
StorageBlue’s facilities are open 365 days a year. Hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
Another way StorageBlue is improving customer service is by revamping facilities’ restrooms. “I went into our existing customer bathrooms,” Mruvka said, “and they were so bad I wouldn’t use them.”
StorageBlue gutted the bathrooms at its four New Jersey facilities and redesigned them.
“We made them into beautiful bathrooms. Going to your storage facility doesn’t have to be a negative, dirty experience,” Mruvka said.
A touch of Hollywood
A self-storage brand launched by a Hollywood insider wouldn’t be complete without its own TV show — or in StorageBlue’s case, a web series.
The series, called “Storage Pirates,” chronicles the exploits of storage auction bidders at StorageBlue’s facilities in New Jersey. It’s available on StorageBlue’s YouTube channel.
“We were auctioning off a lot of [storage] rooms, and I saw all the characters that were there buying things and thought I had to film this,” Mruvka said.
Mruvka said he plans to keep producing episodes of the series, each of which lasts about five minutes.
“The reality is you want to get publicity for your brand, and this is a perfect and natural way for me to do that,” Mruvka said.