Stora raises £0.5m to help self storage businesses embrace the web and sell online
Industry veteran, David Milton, invests alongside venture capital firm, Techstart Ventures.
Stora makes it easy for any self storage operator to embrace the web and run their business online. It gives them a website, designed to be their number one sales channel, that includes online bookings and payments. It automates key processes including recurring billing and customer check-in. In addition, each operator gets an online facility management system where they can customise their website, allocate units, set prices and discounts, and review their key business metrics.
As an all-in-one online solution, Stora replaces the 5+ tools it would typically take to run a Self Storage business online, in a similar way that Shopify did for retail businesses.
The team behind Stora also run a fast growing self storage facility business in Northern Ireland, and initially built Stora to power it. Gavin Shields, founder of StoreStuff Self Storage and CEO of Stora, said: “When we set up StoreStuff - our facility business - in 2019, we couldn’t find a modern, web-based software solution that would allow us to take bookings and payments online easily.
So, we built our own.”
“When we published an article in May 2020 about what we had built, dozens of operators from around the world got in touch to find out how they could use it too. It was clear that the self storage industry was crying out for a software product that enabled online bookings and payments. Stora is the secret sauce behind the rapid growth of our own facility business, and we’re excited to make it available to the wider industry.”
David Milton, who sold his own self storage business to Shurgard in 2018 for £50 million, explains why he invested in Stora: “I believe in the team’s vision of an industry that is shifting increasingly online. I have seen the technology up-close at their own facilities, and believe Stora is well positioned to not just benefit from, but drive, this shift. To have already brought on customers across the UK at this early stage shows the demand for a modern, web-based solution in this industry.”
Although it only launched three months ago, Stora is already powering self storage businesses across the UK. One of Stora’s first customers, Lizzie Jenner of BlockSpace Self Storage in Exeter, said: “Stora has been superb for us. From the outset, we wanted to create an automated facility that required minimum management time. Just a website to do the selling for us. We expected it to take months to set up and that it would cost a fortune. Stora took minutes to set up, and all for a low price that scales with our business. We love it.”
Dean Booty, owner of Store More Self Storage and host of the popular Hacking Self Storage podcast, said: “Stora is game changing. It’s absolutely incredible what it can do. I’m really excited for Stora to be plugged into our sites.”
This funding round will see Stora continue its growth in the UK while also launching in the largest global market, the United States.
“The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the self storage industry’s adoption of online technologies such as contract signature and ID checks.” This, Gavin argues, is simply a continuation along the path to moving customer acquisition fully online: “We fundamentally believe that the self storage industry is moving online in the same way the airline, hotel and countless other industries did years ago. Not having online bookings and payments on your website will become a major competitive disadvantage as customers increasingly seek convenience and speed during the booking and move-in process. Our goal at Stora is to facilitate the shift to online for all operators.”
Stora CEO, Gavin Shields To learn more, set up a demo to see how Stora could help you manage and grow your self storage business. Get a demo.
About David Milton David Milton and his brother John opened their first London-based self storage facility, ABC Self Storage, in 1993. In 2018, they sold the business to Shurgard for £50million. David was on the board of the UK Self Storage Association from 2004 until 2009, including three years as Chairman.
About Techstart Ventures Techstart Ventures LLP is a venture capital fund manager operating in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, Techstart invests in early-stage technology businesses and university spin-outs through £50m of equity funds, and manages a £4.5m proof of concept grant fund. As part of its Access to Finance strategy, Invest NI is a Limited Partner in the Northern Ireland equity funds, funder of the proof of concept grant fund, and is part-funded by ERDF