The one thing that people in America have is space. And - let's admit it - the other thing that people in America have is lots of stuff. We like our stuff. We don't want to get rid of it. But unfortunately, there's an imbalance between the people with a lot of stuff and the people with extra space that could be storing that stuff. Ka-ching.
Which is how the peer-to-peer storage rental company Neiybor got started.
The idea came from one of the company's three co-founders, Preston Alder. Who is a genius. But like most geniuses, he didn't know he was a genius at the time. All he knew was that he had a problem. "My wife and I had recently gotten married, and were headed to an internship out of the country. We had to store all of our things - hers and mine - and we needed a place to put it all," Alder told Provo's Daily Herald. "To fit our needs, we couldn't find anything under $100 a month." After a frustrating search for affordable rental space, Alder eventually found a friend who was willing to take in their stuff.
But then it occurred to Alder that there's probably lots of empty garages near Provo, Utah where his alma-mater Brigham Young is located. "With all the students here in my same circumstances, those garages could be making money," he said. And so we now know the birth of storage-sharing.
It works like this. Hosts and renters get connected through the company's website, where terms, rates and conditions are negotiated. The company provides screening services, and both parties agree to a contract with "rigorous terms," but certainly more flexible (and in many cases less expensive) than traditional storage options. Hosts earn anywhere from $10 to $200 per month - not a bad gig considering the effort involved and the fact that it's extra money for many who could use the extra money. Already the company has brokered storage for boats, cars, wedding dresses and even small business inventory. It's in Utah, for now.
I'm not the only one who thinks this idea is genius. Neiybor is getting plenty of attention elsewhere. According to the Daily Herald report, the company has "participated and placed in multiple college business and entrepreneurial contests at BYU and at the University of Utah, where Gardner was a student. They also placed well enough in BYU's Miller Competition Series New Venture Challenge to warrant an office space in the Tanner Building on the BYU campus." A presentation at the Street Fight Summit in Brooklyn earlier this month was also well received. I predict that a round of venture financing is not so far in the future.
"We're very pleased the next Airbnb is coming out of Provo," Joseph Woodbury, another co-founder of the company, said. Can't wait until it reaches Philly.