Stashing your stuff at your neighbor’s
Utah’s Neiybor enters the sharing economy with shareable storage space
The team behind Neiybor wants to be the Airbnb of storage, and they seem well on their way to doing so.
Founded in March, Neiybor is a peer-to-peer storage rental solution. Hosts and renters connect through the Neiybor website, negotiating terms and rental rates for storage space as small as a closet to as large as an entire garage. Both hosts and renters are screened and verified by the Neiybor team, and agree to a rigorous terms of service contract.
The idea came from co-founder Preston Alder’s own storage experience.
“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 said. “To fit our needs, we couldn’t find anything under $100 a month.”
Alder said that price was too steep for the then-students at Brigham Young University. They considered renting an empty apartment, but that was also prohibitive. Alder wondered why he couldn’t just rent someone’s extra room to store all their boxes. They found an old friend in Kaysville who lent them garage space.
“As I was driving from Kaysville back down to Provo, it dawned on me that there had to be empty garages much closer in Provo. And with all the students here in my same circumstances, those garages could be making money. That was when the idea for Neiybor was formed,” Alder said.
He connected with an old mission companion he served with for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Colton Gardner, who had partnered with him on other business ventures. The duo started developing the idea and the technology needed to make it work. They added Joseph Woodbury, Alder’s fellow student at BYU, recently as well.
“I love building efficient solutions to big problems as well as empowering others,” Gardner said. “I see Neiybor as a way to do both.
“Neiybor fixes the problems of other storage options by providing consumers with storage in their own neighborhood that is significantly cheaper and more flexible. In addition, we allow property owners to utilize their empty space and earn monthly income with no extra work.”
Though the company is officially only about three months old, the three co-founders’ work is gaining them significant attention. They have 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. They soon will move into their own office space in Salt Lake County.
“Without a huge budget, having been able to get where we’re at — it’s more that the idea is great than someone is pushing it on the back end of the company,” Alder said.
The Neiybor team recently was invited to present on Neiybor’s business model during the Street Fight Summit, a national business conference held June 12–14 in Brooklyn, New York.
“Presenting at Street Fight was a great opportunity to showcase Neiybor to people who know the tech industry well. When you’re getting feedback like, ‘We couldn’t stop talking about Neiybor all night after your presentation,’ from a crowd that knows tech so well, you know you’re doing something right,” Woodbury said.
Outside praise aside, the Neiybor team is simply excited about what they are doing for the storage industry.
Alder explained that 47 percent of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency, but with Neiybor, they can rent out a part of their home or yard, and earn passive income.
“We are trying to help them by building an online community where people can rent out their underutilized space and earn a supplemental income,” he said. “We’re also trying to provide renters — especially transient student populations — with more affordable and convenient storage options in their own neighborhood.”
On average, Neiybor helps renters find storage at half the cost of traditional self-storage, Alder said, and on much more flexible terms. Renters can find space for the short term or long term, from three weeks to two years. Depending on the size and amenities of their space, hosts earn anywhere from $10 to $200 per month, and do very little for that income.
Woodbury explained that there is an added convenience to access. Many hosts just need a little notice and they can open up their garage.
“Or some, if you’re storing a boat on the side of their house, don’t mind you coming in as needed to pick it up,” Woodbury said. “What Neiybor is doing is taking the storage industry and using the space we already have. That’s great for everybody.”
The variety of rental spaces and things needing storage has been a bit of a surprise to the team, and renters have come from all market segments, not just students, Alder said. Neiybor transactions have included storage for boats, trailers, classic cars, wedding dresses, books and furniture, and small business inventory.
The Neiybor team has already seen success in Utah County and expanded to Salt Lake County last week. They plan to become well-established in Utah before taking on other states. But they also see Neiybor easily scaling across the nation.
“We’re very pleased the next Airbnb is coming out of Provo,” Woodbury said.
This originally ran as an article for the Provo Daily Herald June 22, 2017.