By Josh McGuire
Finance Major, Honors College
The Honors College is all about putting people in the center of a community that engages your mind to its full potential. I cannot think of a better way to describe the last few months as I along with six others have journeyed to create what we call the Airbnb of self-storage. If you followed the Canyon Challenge you may have seen our name pop up here and there, but I am here to give you an inside look at Storage Together and what it is like founding a company.
Planting the Seed
One might describe the creative process like planting a seed, and the business growth process as weeding, watering and tending to the field. But I find one problem with that: Starting a business is not you planting a seed in the world, but rather a seed growing inside you.
As a co-founder of Storage Together, I recall the first time Luke Amargo (CEO) told me the business idea: “Imagine if we bring self-storage back between people. We could use a model like Airbnb. People earn money by utilizing empty space in their house: garages, closets, whatever works – and everyone gets the service for cheaper!”
That moment of epiphany is a seed inside you. That is when you know you have something worth pursuing – your heart overwhelms with the need to bring the seed to life.
Growing the Seedling
For six months we have been on a journey to bud the seedling. For a while we did not even have the name settled. There was a battle between Store It Together and Storage Together. In the end we thought, “Most people search storage, not store, right?”
Every decision at the beginning is like this – small internal discussions that dictate the direction of the company moving forward. The name might not be the most crucial piece, but what about the business model, the marketing tactics and the first employees or co-founders? Having come fresh from that experience a few pieces of advice when joining or forming your own venture.
- Don’t get hung up on little details of the functionality of your business. Focus on clarification and things you can control which include:
- Product (do not ignore the competition)
- Team structure (we started with four people, but added more later)
- Funding (know how much you will need and find out where you can get it)
- Marketing (figure out your audience – who is that anyway, right?)
- Get advice right away on the legal structure of your company. It helps if they already advise on startup ventures. If you are a GCU student, Professor Blackledge is an amazing connect for that!
- Do not wait to start building partnerships. It will open the doors for all future business. If a particular group can be leveraged to share your product, do not hesitate to ask.
- Make sure everyone in your startup is prepared to dedicate themselves to the venture’s best interest. Long-term sustainability requires consistent people.
Storage Together began to bud when three entrepreneurial faculty members at GCU (Jon Ruybalid, Tim Kelley and Paul Waterman) decided we were a company worth investing in. We made it to the top 10 of Canyon Challenge and placed in the top 5 in the Arizona Collegiate Venture Competition (ACVC) as a result of their vigorous support. This launched us with a $3,500 seed fund, plus the publicity we needed to bring on 100+ beta testers and 10 actual customers this past summer.
We have not built Storage Together into a comparable company to Airbnb, but we have a goal to be a major player in the self-storage field within the year. This summer, we had plans to go through incubation with SEED SPOT, add another team member and set up a city-wide hosting network. With your support as a GCU student, we have the potential to succeed!
Keep up to date on what we are doing as the story unfolds on our Facebook page at facebook.com/storagetogether. If you need storage shoot me an email at Josh@StorageTogether.com. I would love to hear any ideas or feedback!
Learn more about the Honors College at GCU by visiting the GCU website or contacting GCU using the Request More Information button at the top of the page.
More about Josh McGuire:
Josh McGuire is a finance, entrepreneurship and Christian studies student at GCU. He works for the Honors College as an event planner and interned for SEED SPOT and Operation Angel Whings. Additionally, he serves as a senator on ASGCU and club president for Defenders GCU and Circle K International.