The student-founded peer-to-peer marketplace is a fresh look at the storage industry
As a high schooler, Brandon Gotlieb was sitting around the kitchen table one evening, pitching his parents on the idea of listing their home on Airbnb and keeping the money for himself. Uncomfortable at the idea of renting out their home for Brandon’s profit, they balked at the idea. But through the process, Brandon developed another idea for profiting off of the extra, unused space in his home. Fast forward to college and Brandon, alongside co-founder Michael Gargasz, founded NXTSTOR, a peer-to-peer marketplace to rent out that extra space in your spare bedroom, basement or garage.
“It’s taking a new look at an industry that hasn’t changed in decades. Storage units can be expensive, they restrict you to month-to-month contracts and they’re usually out in the suburbs. For college students on a tight budget and without access to a car, it’s just not an attractive or even viable option,” said Gargasz. “You’ll probably end up begging friends to throw your stuff in their basement or garage anyways. The NXTSTOR solution gives people the ability to find reasonably-priced, secure spaces for their stuff nearby. And if you’ve got unused space on your property, it allows you to make some extra cash.”
The solution, which launched in the spring of 2018, lets users search for spaces based on location, narrowed down by features such as climate control, total area, ability to lock and more. During the checkout process, users on both sides of the transaction will agree to terms. For college students who spend summers away from campus for internships, the solution makes perfect sense. But it also makes sense for subletters, people in-between homes, world travelers and foreign exchange students.
“It’s a product of the sharing economy. It’s the Airbnb or Uber for storage space, if you will. We are passionate about giving consumers more flexibility in their options. You’ve already got the space, so you might as well make some money from it,” said Gargasz. “We definitely think there’s room in this market for innovation. We think our solution addresses the pain points to make it a winner.”
NXTSTOR was developed after Gargasz and Gotlieb, then-roommates, prepared a pitch for a Business Builders Club competition at The Ohio State University. They won and were awarded prize money and mentorship to develop their idea further. Beyond that, the win validated the idea for the duo of college freshmen and inspired them to take their venture more seriously.
The founders spent the summer of 2018 in their hometown of Cleveland, where they operated out of the MidTown Tech Hive after being awarded office space from another good showing at a pitch competition. And you can be sure that while they were back in Cleveland, they used their own product to find spaces to store their belongings until the start of the school year.
“We started the company knowing there were some organizations at school that would be helpful to us, but as we get involved with more pitch competitions and startup events, it’s becoming clear that there’s a whole web of resources in Ohio,” said Gotlieb. “As we grow, I’m confident we’ll have the support we need to make NXTSTOR a great success.”