ZipStored opened for business in the state of Texas in mid-January, the latest entrant in the growing on-demand self-storage segment, but it differs from some of its competitors in how it stores goods.

Just as Uber drivers use their personal cars and Airbnb hosts rent out excess space in their homes, ZipStored is tapping into empty or underutilized retail, office and warehouse space to store goods for commercial and residential customers at competitive prices.

On-demand storage providers use an online platform where the customer requests a pickup or delivery of their goods. The company picks up items for storage at the customer’s residence or business and returns them when a customer wants them back.

Besides self-storage, ZipStored provides third-party logistics services to small and mid-sized businesses, including e-commerce sites that have warehouse and delivery needs that are too small to attract interest or a competitive price from larger third-party logistics providers.

Prices in Texas start at 25 cubic feet for $19.95 per month or $24.95 per month for 25 cubic feet of climate controlled space.

The company believes it will also ride the wave of e-commerce growth with its logistics services.

“What we have found is that a lot of the larger 3PL (third-party logistics) providers are really more suited for larger companies; we felt we could come in with our platform and accommodate even the small guy who maybe only ships 50 or 100 items a month,” said Jason Ramage, operations manager.

In Texas, the Carrollton, Texas-based company launched with 87 entities providing excess real estate space for storage. ZipStored’s network of providers earn income by putting previously unused real estate into use.

Plans beyond Texas

Dozens of startups are disrupting the traditional self-storage industry with on-demand services, but many have focused on dense metropolitan areas on the East and West coasts where getting around with a moving van to transport goods to a self-storage unit can be a major undertaking.

In Texas, ZipStored doesn’t have much competition in the on-demand space although Stashable — formerly known as Box Butler — provides services in the state. Stashable, owned by Iron Mountain Inc. (NYSE: IRM), is an early entrant into on-demand storage with a history that dates back to 2007. It operates in eight U.S. states and Toronto.

Several of the biggest on-demand storage providers such as Clutter have yet to enter the state.

ZipStored has big plans to grow in potential competitors’ territories with a goal of launching in 10 more states this spring, including California, Florida and several states surrounding Texas. It raised $100,000 in seed funding last year and is in talks with angel investors for additional financing, Ramage said.

Medical clinics and beyond

“We have a goal to be launched completely across the United States by the end of 2019,” he said. “We are going to expand very rapidly. Texas is our testing ground.”

ZipStored was the conceived by Asker Ahmed of Dallas whose background is in medical research and medical disposable goods. Through that work, Ahmed discovered that warehousing and storage is an issue for medical clinics.

“He had the idea that there could be a service provided to medical clinics where they could buy things in bulk,” Ramage said, and the idea expanded from there. “He started looking around and discovered that there’s a lot of real estate out there that is not being used, and he came up with the idea to getting his hands on those real estate spaces to use for self storage and warehousing for businesses.”

Kerry Curry