What if there were a service like Airbnb to help you store your snow tires or your kayak for a season?
That’s the idea behind Burlington resident Eric Duany’s new website, Garagelot.
The 34-year-old Burlington resident, who works as an SEO analyst at Dealer.com, has been an Airbnb host for a while now. So when a coworker posted about needing a local place to store and work on a Vanagon (an old-school camper) through the winter, something clicked. He started searching for web services that focus on service.
“There were some others out there, but no one’s taken over the market yet,” said Duany.
And it seemed to him that Burlington was a logical place to start something like that. With plenty of seasonal storage needs — boats and bikes in winter, snow tires and skis in summer — Craigslist and neighborhood Front Porch Forums are full of requests for storage space. And college students come and go, many of them needing storage in summer.
Plus, said Duany, “In a place like Burlington, we have a lot of room” — unlike in New York City or San Francisco. Plenty of people have garage or basement space they’re not using.
So Duany worked with two friends to build Garagelot, which had its soft launch earlier this month.
At the moment, three people are offering storage space on the site, advertising a price and allowing those looking for storage to get in touch with them.
“Now, it just works like a classified listing,” said Duany.
He anticipates sign-ups will increase as the site gets more features. Duany and Garagelot’s web developer, Sean Dempsey, are planning to add a payment system, user reviews and messaging features in the next two or three months.
Duany said his next concern is figuring out a system for insurance and liability — which he said is a big concern for a startup that’s trying to break out of the traditional self-storage mold. It’s unlikely that any commercial insurance provider would cover the kind of storage Garagelot wants to facilitate.
“Insurance hasn’t caught up yet,” he said.
Duany will be working with a lawyer to figure out the site’s terms of service and possibly a way to allow Garagelot users to purchase insurance through the site.
So far, though, Duany and his cofounders are focused on features — and funding. Duany is optimistic about seeking startup funds, because he sees Garagelot filling a gap in the storage market just like Airbnb filled a gap in the housing market — connecting those with extra room with those who would pay to use it.
“What I’ve loved about being an Airbnb host is it’s a good source of secondary income,” he said. “It helps people become self-reliant.” He’s hoping Garagelot will get there someday, too.