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On-Demand Storage Services for Your Junk

Attention, Kondo wannabes with Kardashian habits: A new crop of startups is peddling concierge services for your junk. In June, VC firms including GV and Sequoia Capital invested $64 million in Clutter, an on-demand storage service that comes to your home to photograph, barcode, and catalog your stuff, then hauls it to remote storage facilities. (Closet plans start at $59 per month; any item can be returned to your doorstep within 48 hours.) Comparable stuff-wrangling startups are also drawing VC interest: This spring, MakeSpace closed a $30 million Series C round by 8VC, and Trove, cofounded by former Uber exec Michael Pao, secured $8 million from Greylock Partners. As the number of renters rises—Freddie Mac estimates millions of homeowning baby boomers will downsize to become renters by 2020—and cities get denser, VCs have an opportunity to reinvent the $30 billion self-storage market. “We see the idea of having to catalog, transport, and return millions of items as a hard engineering problem,” says Sequoia Capital partner Omar Hamoui. “These startups are applying the mobile technology concepts that power Uber and DoorDash to the storage industry.” Silicon Valley is intrigued not by these companies’ remote storage lockers but by their appeal to the don’t-DIY generation. “People are putting a huge premium on convenience,” says Clutter cofounder Ari Mir. Especially millennials, who accounted for half of the $58 ­billion Americans spent on on-demand services in 2015. If the on-demand model seeps into any more industries, getting us off the couch may become the hardest engineering problem yet.

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