All of us are familiar with peer-to-peer marketplaces like Uber and Airbnb. These disruptive companies are changing the way that we get around and how we travel. A University of Utah alum is disrupting the way you use storage. Neighbor, considered the “Airbnb of Storage,” is an online marketplace that connects hosts with extra space in their home to renters in need of storage. Just like other peer-to-peer marketplaces have done in their own markets, Neighbor is attempting to break into the $38B storage industry.
Colton Gardner, who majored in finance, cofounded Neighbor while at the University of Utah in 2016. His cofounder and BYU alum, Preston Alder, came up with the idea of Neighbor when trying to find cheap storage space for his possessions during a summer internship. After driving 2 hours to store his items in a family friend’s garage, he thought there must be empty garages closer to him that he could store in – and thus, Neighbor was born.
Gardner and Alder teamed up and utilized many of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute’s resources to help them get started. “Hours with Experts, Get Seeded, Opportunity Quest, and the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge were crucial to Neighbor’s success,” Gardner says. “Nearly $8,000 in grants from Get Seeded and Opportunity Quest allowed us to validate our business model and build a beta website.” Since then, Neighbor has launched a brand new website and has grown throughout Utah and beyond. “We love how quickly interest in Neighbor has spread. We have listings in multiple states and recently presented at a national tech conference in New York. Every day we have people from around the U.S., even as far as Europe, asking when Neighbor will be available in their area.”
People with an empty basement, garage, RV pad or other space can sign up and list their space for free. Neighbor allows hosts, people with extra space, to set their own prices, determine when renters can access the space, and allows them to approve or decline any rental reservations. Gardner explains that Neighbor has hosts who are making more than $200 a month renting out their garage or unfinished basement. On the flip side, renters can get on and find storage options in their own neighborhood at 50 percent the cost of traditional self-storage.
Neighbor recognizes that security is a common concern. “As our name and logo show, we’ve built our brand and product to focus on people, community and security,” Gardner said. “In addition to requiring a verified email, profile photo and bio from all users, hosts are required to verify their phone number and photo ID.” Neighbor connects and protects both parties with a strict terms of service and secure, automatic billing.
Gardner hopes that Neighbor can serve as an example to other student entrepreneurs in turning their business ideas into reality.
Check out Neighbor today to list your unused space or find affordable storage: neighbor.com.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article listed the spelling of Neighbor as “Neiybor.” The company has since rebranded as Neighbor.