Handy, a web and mobile-based platform for on-demand household services, is the latest entrant in the city’s growing full-service storage market.
Handy is adding valet storage to its line up of other services in the borough of Manhattan with an eye on expanding the service to other markets in the future. Handy’s core offering is on-demand housecleaning and handyman services.
“Self-storage is very difficult, especially for New Yorkers who live in high rises and don’t have a car, and don’t have that much time to put their things in self-storage,” said Alex Levin, vice president of expansion at Handy.
“We really wanted to offer a better product. We designed it completely with the customer in mind. The customer just picks a time, and Handy moving professionals show up for free, and we photograph and inventory every item in storage and then the customer can request any items delivered on demand.”
Handy will not disclose how many professionals are providing valet self storage services on the platform or how many customers have used the full-service self-storage offering to date since the soft launch three months ago, although Levin says Handy has “seen remarkable demand.”
Making it work
“We were surprised how many customers wanted this,” Levin said.
Customers haven’t just used it for traditional purposes such as long-term storage or for storage between moves, according to Handy. The company also has entrepreneurs, including a clothing designer, using Handy as their company’s warehouse, Levin said.
Handy is storing the goods of New Yorkers in nearby New Jersey, which allows them to offer better prices. The cost of warehousing is less there than in New York, and the trucking routes are more efficient, allowing Handy to offer better prices than its competition.
It’s currently offering a free month of storage and only charges customers for the space they actually need, regardless of what plan a customer picks. If a customer pays for a 10×5 space and his or her stuff only fills up a 5×5 space, Handy will refund the difference. A 5×5 space costs $99 a month, a 5×10 is $149 and a 10×10 costs $249 a month. It also offers larger and smaller spaces and customizable options.
Investor interest strong
Since its 2012 inception, the company, which operates in 28 markets including Canada and the United Kingdom, has received nearly $111 million in investment funding. In November, Fidelity Management & Research Co. led a $50 million Series C funding round. At that time, TechCrunch estimated the company’s valuation at $500 million.
On-demand services delivered via smartphone, such as those provided by Uber, Lyft and Airbnb, are a hot commodity in the growing gig economy.
Levin says Handy hopes to disrupt the current self storage model, one in which a user typically finds a brick-and-mortar self storage location, pays for specific-sized space no matter how much of it is used and moves their own stuff into and out of the space.
Ripe for disruption
Handy cites statistics that one in 10 U.S. residents are using self-storage but aren’t enamored with the traditional process.
“Self storage companies today don’t need to offer great customer service, they don’t need to offer great prices because over 90% of the existing self storage is utilized,” Levin said. “We have an opportunity, I think, to bring customer service and bring lower prices to this industry and really ‘wow’ customers.
Because Handy has been in the home services market since 2012, it feels like it has learned a lot from its cleaning and handyman services and has had time to build a robust and mature technology platform to support its new valet self-storage service.
The company isn’t overly concerned about competition due to the vast size of the customer base in New York, Levin said.
“In the long run, there’s large enough market for a few players,” Levin said. “Once we really do a good job in New York City, there’s a possibility we’ll bring this to other markets.”