Described as the “Airbnb for left luggage”, CityStasher enables tourists to store their bags with local shops and hotels.
Unlike other tech disruptors in the sharing economy, CityStasher is seeking to work hand-in-hand with tangible businesses of the high street to provide an unrivalled service to their users.
Real Business sat down with the founding team, Jake Wedderburn-Day, Matt Majewski and Ant Collias to find out more.
What is CityStasher? What consumer need is it servicing?
Collias: CityStasher is a luggage storage marketplace. We connect tourists who need to store their bags with local shops and hotels who can keep them safe and fully insured.
Our core market is Airbnb users, but we also cater to daytrippers, event-goers, people traveling for business and hotel guests. We’re starting with left luggage, but have big plans to introduce new delivery-based services as the model develops.
Majewski: Airbnb has a lot of benefits, but handling your bags isn’t one of them. Most hosts have fairly strict check-ins and check-outs and the result is guests getting turfed out with their suitcase in tow. That’s a real nuisance when you’ve got hours until your flight or your check-in and want to do some sightseeing.
Collias: You’d also be surprised to hear that a lot of hotel guests have this issue. Hotels aren’t keen on storing your bags and London’s so big that they may not be the ideal place to leave your stuff anyway.
Often, concierges actually call us up on guests’ behalf! CityStasher helps give these people somewhere they can store their bags with peace of mind, while they enjoy the day.
How did the idea come about?
Collias: I used to live between Euston and King’s Cross with my brother, who studied in Central London. We constantly had friends asking to drop their stuff off and it was really annoying.
One day my co-founder, Matt, asked to drop his stuff off for the weekend and I told him he’d have to pay me. It was a joke (sort of) but it got us thinking. After experimenting a bit, we found that the best model was using local businesses as hosts and focusing on short-term luggage storage.
Majewski: I never thought that by being a bit cheeky and angling for a freebie meant we would stumble upon a great business idea!
What’s different about using CityStasher?
Collias: We started out pitching ourselves against station facilities, so the key factor was price – they cost £12.50 per day. We charge half that or less! We’re £4 for under 3 hours, or £6 and you get the full 24 hours.
As our network has grown, we found that money isn’t everything. Many users rated our convenience as a key reason for using us and even more report enjoying the experience of interacting with a local hosts, who can offer advice and tips, and supporting their businesses.
Wedderburn-Day: Another bonus is you never have to queue with CityStasher because it’s all booked in advance. We’ve had reviews from customers who were so frustrated standing in the station queues that they googled for alternatives and found us instead!
What do you think CityStasher is bringing to the sharing economy?
Collias: I think the really great thing about our model is it drives business back to local shops and hotels. Typically, these are the groups that have been hit the hardest by the success of the sharing economy – just look at how Airbnb has affected the hotel industry. And bricks and mortar shops have all been hit hard by the consumer shift to online.
So, we’re unusual because we actually drive custom back into their premises. And for hotels, we send a lot of Airbnb guests their way, which is a real win for them.
How big is your network and how big do you want it to be?
Majewski: We currently have just over 100 hosts on our network, which is a big achievement for our first year in business! How big do we want it to be? Ultimately, we want you to always be within 100m of a StashPoint, no matter what city you’re in.
In the UK, there is no reason not to have a StashPoint in every town. We would say the sky’s the limit, but we are quite strategic about where we sign places up, because we don’t want too many hosts at the same place otherwise they don’t benefit as much.
Wedderburn-Day: Our vision is to take this business worldwide. We’ve had our first forays abroad with a StashPoint in Amsterdam and we have big plans for expansion towards the end of this year!
We know this model will work well in Europe, and there are great Airbnb cities like Paris and Barcelona on our doorstep. We hope to take it to the Americas and Asia in the future.
How do you plan to achieve the next level of growth?
Collias: We’ve already stored over 20,000 bags so far, but expansion is the name of the game. We’re hiring a great team to support us this summer as we look to cover the UK and launch abroad.
We also want to improve our tech. You know when you’re out late, lost and you think “thank god I can just call an Uber”. We want our tech to be like that, but with your bags. A real sense of relief and freedom.
Wedderburn-Day: We’re raising our second round this summer, to give us the funds to hire people, improve our tech and take this international. We’ve also got some really exciting marketing plans in the pipeline!
There have been so many times in the last year that we have needed the service ourselves – we know that as more people find out about it, they will need to use it too.
Interested? Check out the CityStasher website for more.