MakeSpace, Cloud Storage For Your Physical Stuff, Raises $8 Million in Series A Funding

In 2012, Sam Rosen felt aimless. The reformed CitiBanker's last startup was going nowhere fast, and he was shuffling his feet without a project. Then Hurricane Sandy hit.

In 2012, Sam Rosen felt aimless. The reformed CitiBanker's last startup was going nowhere fast, and he was shuffling his feet without a project. Then Hurricane Sandy hit.

"My then-girlfriend got her entire place destroyed in a flood," says Rosen. After sorting through what remained of her stuff, they had to pack up and move what her belongings into a storage facility in Hoboken, which turned out to be a logistical nightmare. Packing stuff in boxes was messy, and they couldn't find anything when they needed it later. That's where the idea for MakeSpace was born.

Left to right: MakeSpace cofounders Adam LeVasseur, Sam Rosen, and Rahul Gandhi

Rosen, who would go on to cofound the company in 2013 with Adam LeVasseur and Rahul Gandhi, describes MakeSpace as "Dropbox meets storage unit." That sort of Silicon Valley-speak might raise eyebrows on paper, but it's actually not far off. MakeSpace, which launched in beta last summer in New York, aims to take the headache and messy guesswork out of physically storing your extra stuff in a storage unit. It's like having an extra closet.

Today MakeSpace announced that it has raised $8 million in Series A funding, led by Upfront Ventures and with participation from Founders Fund and OATV, among others. It works like this: Once you sign up through the app or website, you request plastic bins ($25/month for 4 bins, with $6.25 for each additional bin), which are sent to your home. You pack your extra stuff up (oversized stuff like snowboards or furniture are extra), it's taken away by a MakeSpace truck and stored in a warehouse outside of the city, and you can request bins back whenever you want for $29. That's about the cost of a round-trip cab ride, says Rosen.

Users can also opt to have photos of each bin's contents taken, so that they can see what they actually stored online. "We create a digital catalog, which 99.99% of our customers opt in for, and we take an overhead photo of the boxes in a studio," Rosen says. "So if you're looking for a 'beige sweater,' you know which beige sweater you actually stored."

Like many a founder-slash-CEO, Rosen is a bundle of energy. He speaks fast, gesticulates big, and is constantly drawing parallels. When I met up with him in MakeSpace's office in Chinatown, he compared MakeSpace to everything from FreshDirect (without the food) to a "reverse Amazon" (and monoliths like Manhattan Mini Storage are, according to Rosen, akin to local bookstores).

But his itchy enthusiasm is at least partly what attracted the attention of some big-time investors, namely Mark Suster, General Partner of Upfront Ventures. "What I was trying to find is industries people hate," Suster tells me in a phone conversation. When Rosen hinted at the idea for MakeSpace over coffee in 2012, he was still "noodling" with the idea of cloud storage for physical stuff; Suster thought it was such a brilliant idea that—even without an actual business plan—he gave Rosen $100,000 to make MakeSpace happen, and brought him aboard as Upfront's first "entrepreneur in residence."

For now, MakeSpace is focused on disrupting what Rosen considers to be an archaic $24 billion storage industry in New York, but he eventually hopes to expand business along the eastern seaboard. "We have a real opportunity to disrupt the storage business," says Rosen, who tells me he couldn't be happier to have found a project he can throw himself into. "We want people to have that second or third closet that's accessible, and more importantly, we don't want them to forget about what's inside."

[Image: Flickr user The U.S. Army]

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7 Comments

  • Jill Johnson

    Only LAZY people will use this service. Worse they raised all this money because WHO YOU KNOW! Companies like Storably, etc. tried and failed. Nothing innovative about it. Besides outside of NYC (Manhattan... not even Brooklyn or Queens) who needs this service? $29 to drive my own stuff back to me? Please STOP using the word innovative and disruptive at the drop of a dime!

  • Jill Johnson

    Only LAZY people will use this service. Worse they raised all this money because WHO YOU KNOW! Companies like Storably, etc. tried and failed. Nothing innovative about it. Besides outside of NYC (Manhattan... not even Brooklyn or Queens) who needs this service? $29 to drive my own stuff back to me? Please STOP using the word innovative and disruptive at the drop of a dime!

  • Samuel Pun

    yup it is just better pod

    Self storage is not exactly a sexy industry anyway. This is quite a big innovation for them. And once the news of them got funding spreads, tons of start up will pop up from no where (FYI there are quite a few like yes-storage, clutter, westore and more in business)

  • This isnt a fucking cloud. I cant pack my shit up in a bin and send it to the "cloud" then go to an entirely different city across the country and either get that exact bin or a copy of that bin with all the same stuff in it. Nor can I put my bin up in the cloud and then send a copy of it to my fiances apartment, my parents house, my best friends guest house and send a copy of it to my house. This is a storage rental place that happens to pick up your shit and deliver it back to you.

  • Leave it to a "reformed CitiBanker" to come up with a concept that's overpriced for most Americans for all but the most expensive or valued belongings. Of course if his market is his former colleagues then it makes complete sense.