Startup Spotlight: Roost, an Airbnb for storage

People are already sharing their house and cars to make a few bucks, and now you can also make a pretty penny for renting out your basement or garage.

In the next evolution of the sharing economy, Roost, which launches Wednesday in the Bay Area, is an online platform where people with storage space to rent out — by the hour, day, week or month — can offer it to people with stuff to store. The idea is to avoid the high cost and hassle of self-storage, which often requires a month-to-month commitment and can cost several hundred dollars, by maximizing the privately owned storage space already out there.

Roost is an online marketplace similar to Airbnb, where users can search for storage, including privately owned parking spaces and garages, throughout the Bay Area — from Napa to Santa Cruz, throughout the Peninsula and as far east as Oakland and Hayward. When they find the right size storage space for their needs, users can send the property owners an online message asking to stash their stuff. Property owners can choose whether to approve the request and set their own rental rates. Co-founder and CEO Jonathan Gillon said the cost is generally half of what self-storage facilities charge; for instance, a 5-foot by 5-foot space may run $50 to $70 per month.

The site has about 200 storage options, and while most are garages or attics, with space at a premium in the pay area, people have gotten creative. Gillon said some people are offering to rent out crawl spaces, basements, sheds, spare rooms or even random empty portions of their house or apartment.

“You can list whatever you want, but here’s no guarantee that anyone will rent it,” Gillon said.

Gillon said everyone who posts storage space for rent on the platform goes through a criminal background check. Storage hosts are given ratings and user reviews, such as Airbnb hosts.

People who store items and fail to pick them up will be charged, and after 30 days, their belongings will be confiscated and sold or donated to charity, Gillon said. And if the person storing their belongings runs into trouble picking it up — say the host left town and isn’t answering his phone — Roost has “legal action that could be taken” to recover the belongings, he said.

“There is no real way for us to control the property, but we can just provide the customer support,” he said. “And if necessary, we can give someone the boot” from the site.

Gillon came up with the idea after his brother moved from Austin to San Francisco and needed a place to store his belongings until his house was ready. Gillon offered up his own storage unit, which he wasn’t using at the time. For payment, his brother “brought me drinks and dinner for a few weeks.”

Roost has six employees and is based in San Francisco. The company is working on a mobile app for Android in iOS, which will launch in two to four months.

Screenshot courtesy Roost


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  • CM

    I can see why sellers and buyers need an exchange like airbnb to rent out a house. However, buyers of Storage tend to stay for a while and dont jump around too much. Such a hassle to move your stuff from storage to storage. Once you’re settled, you’re settled. Whats to stop a Storage buyer and seller working direct and forming an agreement after Roost makes the introduction. Roost will be left out of that agreement. Tough business plan.