Businessing Magazine recently spoke with John Publicover, co-founder and CEO of Storedby. John turned down a full time position at a hedge fund after graduating from The University of Tampa with a degree in International Business and Finance to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams, and developed Storedby, an online marketplace where users can list and rent privately-owned, underutilized spaces for storage.
Storedby uses the Sharing Economy model in combination with traditional marketplaces to connect people to vacant spaces through mutually beneficial transactions. Spaces like garages, attics, basements, storage sheds, closets, and even driveways and yards are just some of the spaces available to rent in the Storedby marketplace. Read on to find out more about Storedby, the challenges John has faced as a young entrepreneur, and his plans to grow his company into a household name.
How did you come up with the idea for Storedby?
In March 2015, as an out-of-state university student, I faced the challenge of where was I going to store my college belongings during the months of May, June, July and August when I was not going to be present at the university. After significant research, every storage option that I found was going to cost more than the value of my items. Not wanting to disregard my belongings, nor pay storage fees greater than their value, I searched for a solution to this problem. After significant research, I noticed that many venture capitalists had market confidence in companies affiliated with the sharing economy. I paired the lack of affordable storage with collaborative consumption, which resulted in Storedby.
What experience and/or education prepared you for starting this type of business?
Studying finance at The University of Tampa has provided me with exceptional knowledge throughout all of the stages of my entrepreneurial journey. Whether illustrating Monte Carlo simulations or describing our growth in EBITDA, studying finance at The University of Tampa has provided the necessary knowledge to speak and understand and act upon the numbers related to the startup. At The University of Tampa, and specifically the John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, experimental learning and networking with successful individuals across all industries has prepared me for, and continues to assist me with, the strategic growth of Storedby.
What specific challenges have you come up against in starting your business and how have you tackled them?
In the original idea stage, I had a dream of developing a technology platform, so I sought price quotes from external companies to develop the necessary technology. After receiving several unfeasible quotes and speaking with several experienced tech developers, I knew that it was necessary to bring a tech co-founder onboard to our team in lieu of outsourcing our technology. This individual needed to demonstrate the same passion for solving the problem, while having the qualifications to complete the necessary tasks. After speaking with numerous individuals, Craig Read-Smith, an expert in technology development, joined our team. Finding a qualified and experienced individual was the first major challenge that I had faced when beginning Storedby.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known before starting your business?
In the early days of Storedby, I would often speak with experienced entrepreneurs about starting a business and listen to them speak about their journey. After listening and taking notes about the journeys of multiple entrepreneurs, I noticed that it was very common to hear the phrases, “be prepared to have many sleepless nights” and “struggle through your challenges.”
What I know now that I did not know back then, is that this is not necessarily the case. As an entrepreneur, I believe that it is extremely important to balance the work, social, and sleep triangle. With more than 90% of startups failing, I attribute a significant amount of these to an imbalance in this triangle. In terms of struggling through challenges, I would have to say that many individuals had placed an unnecessary negative connotation on this phrase. Most entrepreneurs do not see challenges as a burden that will halt them from continuing, but as problems awaiting a solution.
What are your plans for the future of Storedby? Where do you see the company in 5 or 10 years?
Just like we say Kleenex for a tissue, Ziploc for a plastic sealable bag, or Xerox for a printer, the Storedby brand will be synonymous with storage space.
Based on our phased approach, the future holds quite a bit for Storedby. Achieving milestones over the given time period, Storedby will be the top storage space option for a variety of markets, including university students, military personnel, and those who are moving or need vehicle parking. Storedby is and will continue to help hosts and renters create mutually beneficial experiences through the use of underutilized space.