Omni's on-demand storage service will someday let its customers do much more with their stuff.
Most San Franciscans share two housing problems: sky-high rents and not much storage space.
The former won’t be solved anytime soon with any sort of magic solution, but the latter has hope. Like most other challenges faced by young urban dwellers, there are startups ready to tackle it. One of them, a San Francisco-based company called Omni, provides a storage service for that group. It picks up a customer’s items, photographs and catalogs them online, then safely packages and stores them away in one of its warehouses.
Need to get those skis for a trip this weekend? With the tap of an app, Omni drops them off the next day for free or within a couple of hours for a small fee. It will, of course, come back to pick them up once that ski trip is over.
Omni, which debuted its service last fall, is a hybrid between a storage company and a tool for its customers to better manage the space in their homes. On Thursday the company revealed it has raised a total of $10 million in funding, including a recently closed $7 million round.
“I think we’re offering a service that’s way more about a lifestyle,” Omni co-founder and CEO Tom McLeod told Fortune in an interview.
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At the moment, Omni stores its customers’ “tens of thousands” of items in three warehouses in San Francisco and by the end of the year its facilities will occupy more than 100,000 square feet, the company says. For standard-size items, Omni charges 25 cents per item, per month, $2 per month for large items like bikes and baby strollers, and $5 for a box of items like tree ornaments.
When a customer requests an item—or several—back, Omni delivers it for free the next day, or the same day for a $4.99 fee, within three hours for $9.99, or within two hours for $19.99. It also charges fees for late cancellations, delivery outside its area of operation, or delivery to an address different from the customer’s primary address on file, among other reasons. The company isn’t currently profitably, but McLeod says that it does have positive gross margins.
At the moment, McLeod says he sees three main categories of customers use his company’s service: fresh college graduates with their first job and small first apartment, more established young professionals who’ve amassed a lot of stuff and need to declutter, and the young couple with kids who need to make space for their growing family.
Omni has also attracted other businesses as customers, says McLeod. Samantha Smith, for example, who owns a San Francisco-based event-planning company, told Fortune she’s been using the service to store excess decorations, which allows her to reuse them and save her clients money. Melody McCloskey, co-founder and CEO of beauty services marketplace StyleSeat, said her team uses the service to store trade show props and other materials that previously took over her startup’s office.
Though Omni doesn’t currently offer a version of its service specifically designed for business customers, it has introduced some features, like the ability to group together identical items when browsing stored items in the mobile app, that businesses in particular find quite useful.
Still, according to Highland Capital Partners’ Manish Patel, who led Omni’s latest funding round, Omni’s core business will come from consumers, not businesses.
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Of course, Omni is far from the only company providing storage on demand. Along with traditional unit storages companies, it competes with other startups like Clutter, which recently raised an additional $20 million in funding, MakeSpace, and Livible, to name a few.
But perhaps where the company differs is its bigger vision of putting the items it stores to work. Eventually, McLeod envisions, his customers will be able to loan out, sell, or donate the items they store. For example, a customer could lend another a pair of stored skis for a trip. Or it could ask customers to donate old clothes to a charity, or connect two sneaker collectors who want to trade coveted shoes.
Eventually, Omni could create a true “sharing economy” by turning its storage service into a dynamic marketplace. It could easily analyze its customers’ catalogs, recommend that a customer donate an old suit he or she hasn’t touched in over a year, for example, and provide a way to dispose of it.
“There’s no two ways about it, when you open the app, you see all these items and it feels like you should be able to do more” than just store and retrieve items, he told Fortune, adding that customers often request such features like the ability to donate or sell their items.
Though it hasn’t delved into those plans, McLeod says he hopes to add at least one such feature to the service in the next year. He also plans to use its new funding to start expanding beyond the Bay Area late this year or early next year, though he declined to share which city Omni will go to next.
McLeod co-founded Omni in 2014 with Aaron Wiener and Adam Dexter. Along with Highland Capital Partners, Omni’s investors include rapper Drake, actress Sophia Bush, Scooter Braun (best known as singer Justin Bieber’s manager), business executive Judith Estrin, entrepreneur Shervin Pishevar, and venture capital firms 8VC and Bolt Capital.
An earlier version of the story referred to 8VC by its former name. The story has been updated.