OpenUnit raises a $1M seed round to be the online face of self-storage – TechCrunch

by Jeremy

How are mom-and-pop self-storage facilities meant to keep up with the tech offered by the massive, ever-growing chains?

That’s a crucial part of the idea behind OpenUnit, a team I first wrote about in August last year. You bring the storage units; they get the website, payment processing, and backend tools you need to manage them. Instead of taking a cut of each payment as the payments processor, they don’t charge facility owners a monthly subscription fee.

OpenUnit has now raised a $1M seed round and acquired the IP of a fellow YC company along the way.

The team tells me that since we last heard from OpenUnit, they’ve been expanding to locations around the US and Canada and now have a waitlist of over 800 facilities deep.


OpenUnit co-founder Taylor Cooney quickly pointed out that this seed round is as much about strategic partnerships as the money. Neither Taylor nor co-founder Lucas Playford had much to do with the storage industry until a knock at the door led them down a rabbit hole. As I wrote back in August:

“… Taylor’s landlords came to him with an offer: they wanted to sell the place he was renting, and they him a stack of cash if he could be out within just a few days. Pulling that off meant finding a place to keep all his stuff while he looked for a new home, which is when he realized how antiquated the self-storage process could be.”

Of the 20+ investors participating in the round, six are from the self-storage industry, from prior/current facility owners to the Canadian Self Storage Association Director. For some, it’s their first time investing in a tech or software company — but all potentially bring something to the table beyond money.

Of course, that’s not to say they’re just letting that money sit around. They’ve grown the team from just Taylor and Lucas to five and are still looking to expand. Meanwhile, Taylor tells me that the company has acquired the IP of fellow Y Combinator W20 batchmate Affiga. This product automatically provides insights about a new customer after a transaction.

Writes Taylor: “As self-storage companies move services like rentals, leases, and payments online, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to ‘know’ their customers. We see the integration into our product as a way to help self-storage operators bridge the gap between their online and in-store customer experiences, where the personal touch tends to be lost.”

Affiche initially shut down its operations back in 2020. After OpenUnit realized they wanted something similar in their product, they decided to buy rather than build. “With a decade in e-commerce under their belt,” Taylor tells me, “their founder had a much better approach to this than we would’ve come up with.”

So what’s next? Besides getting more people off the waitlist and onto the platform, they’re exploring other opportunities, including potentially providing loans to facilities looking to expand or renovate. Because OpenUnit is both the management platform and the payments provider, they have deep insights into how a facility is doing; they know how much a location makes, how punctual their customers are with payments, etc. Take that data and mash it up with insights on what improvements can increase revenue, and it seems like a pretty straightforward formula.

This round includes investment from Garage Capital, Advisors Fund, Insite Property Group, SquareFoot co-founder Jonathan Wasserstrum, and some angel investors.

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