Simplify Valet Storage has launched on-demand services to the five boroughs of New York City with the promise of a three-hour response time for the return of stored items.
The company is based in Long Island City and bootstrapped by entrepreneur Donal O’Sullivan, who works in the construction industry.
“He built a [storage warehouse] in Long Island City and saw the demand for space and how apartments are decreasing in size,” said Jayline Pereira, operations manager for Simplify Valet Storage. The company has its office in Midtown, and stores goods in Long Island City, but plans to expand to other warehouses to form a logistics network that allows for a quick response time.
The valet, or on-demand, storage concept has become popular in urbanized areas such as New York City where loading up a pickup or small trailer on a busy, narrow street and then trucking it to a self-storage location can be a stressful experience, and because residents are living in increasingly smaller spaces due to rising housing costs, raising the demand for storage.
The model is simple: customers pack up their belongings and a company comes and picks them up and puts them in storage. When a customer wants something back, they use an app or website to request a delivery.
This still-new new crop of startups has promised to disrupt the traditional self-storage industry by offering a better, more convenient alternative. They are offering a still-new option that customers appear to like, but the field is getting crowded.
Startups such as Simplify Valet Storage must compete against others that are attracting large investments.
In February, 4-year-old Culver City, California-based Clutter landed a $200 million investment led by Softbank Vision Fund. The company has raised $297 million to date. Co-founder and CEO Ari Mir has said the company intends to compete for market share with the $38 billion U.S. self-storage industry.
New York-based MakeSpace recently partnered with Boston’s Iron Mountain and raised $30 million in funding to expand into San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, Seattle, Philadelphia and Toronto..
Small startups like Simplify could have tough sledding ahead. Simply requires customers rent a minimum of 5 bins for $30 a month with each additional bin $6. They also rent 5 by 5 or 5 by 10 units with larger spaces on request. They don’t pick up heavy items such appliances but do pick up light-weight bulky items such as bicycles, which cost $30 per month per item for storage.
“Although new competitors are constantly joining the market,” Pereira said. “What sets Simplify apart is our relationship with our customers. We’re not an automated based company, but one that has real representatives available by phone to solve any of their problems.”
She said they differ from competitors by not requiring customers to order a 5 by 5 or a 5 by 10 unit with the bin service and instead it provides bins a la carte, if desired. So far, the most common customers are mothers with growing families who want to store toys and baby items; it also services business clients.
“We pride ourselves on the flexibility of having several different options and being accommodating to our clients,” Pereira said. “We are available by phone if you call us.”