Ottawa entrepreneur launches 'Airbnb of self-storage' by turning vacant spaces into low-cost storage solutions

New online platform Shared Storage connects neighbours in need of space to neighbours with room to spare
storage
Daniel Disipio, founder of peer-to-peer self-storage startup Shared Storage. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Some folks are unknowingly surrounded by thousands of dollars’ worth of empty, unused spaces in their homes while others accumulate tonnes of extra stuff but have no place to put it.

Ottawa residential real estate investor and budding humanitarian Daniel Disipio has just launched a new peer-to-peer self-storage alternative, called Shared Storage. The web-based platform brings together people looking to store their personal items at a bargain price with property owners who have available space in their homes.

Disipio, 25, has been buying up homes around Ottawa since he was 19.

“My dad kind of got me into it. I’m Italian; a lot of Italians like to buy a lot of real estate. It’s just a good investment,” he says.

Disipio started Shared Storage after realizing his properties had large vacant spaces that were going to waste.

“I also realized there are people out there paying obscene amounts of money to have their belongings stored," he added.

Shared Storage connects neighbours with neighbours. Hosts can make extra cash by renting out their storage space while the storage seekers benefit from cheaper prices and more convenient locations than commercial facilities, says Disipio. It’s like the Uber or Airbnb of the self-storage industry, but without having to jump into a stranger’s car or sleep in their bed. 

“You’re just storing stuff at someone’s place. It may just be your neighbour, who lives down the street,” said Disipio.

Typically, people are looking to stash seasonal belongings, like holiday decorations, sports equipment and winter tires, said Disipio. In some cases, individuals are having to move away temporarily but still need a place to keep their belongings while they’re out of town.

Often, the property is of little monetary value but the owner has a strong attachment to it, said Disipio.

“Nine times out of 10, it’s all emotional; it’s all stuff that they don’t want to get rid of.”

Shared Storage can also find vacant driveways for people to store their RVs, boats, and other fun outdoor toys.

storage
Daniel Disipio, founder of peer-to-peer self-storage startup Shared Storage. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Since self-storage facilities emerged in the 1960s, the industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of commercial real estate, according to market research firm IBISWorld. Peer-to-peer storage startups have been popping up in Canada and the United States, disrupting the unassuming billion-dollar self-storage market.

Shared Storage is the latest example in Ottawa of how the sharing economy movement is evolving in new directions. It's been exactly two years since the launch of Ottawa-based Ruckify, an online marketplace that offers people the opportunity to lessen their impact on the environment, and earn or save money. Meanwhile, RVezy, an Ottawa-based peer-to-peer rental platform for recreational vehicles, continues to gain momentum.

Disipio says he's able to earn a passive income from his side hustle business by charging 10 per cent off the top.

"I'm literally the middleman," said Disipio, who was formerly drafted to the Ontario Hockey League before earning his business administration degree in accounting from Bishop's University.

The project started in its planning stages in June, before Disipio got involved in Invest Ottawa's pre-accelerator program. 

Shared Storage's model enables a host to set a price as well as the rules for access to the storage space. Security can range from alarm systems to lock and key. Items can be insured through homeowners insurance or renters insurance.

The plan is to expand Shared Storage to other Canadian cities, creating an opportunity for a larger company to come along and make Disipio an offer he can't refuse. Money from the sale of Shared Storage would fund his first passion: helping the people of Guatemala gain access to clean drinking water. 

Disipio travelled to Guatemala in 2018 as a university student to participate in the NIBS Worldwide Case Competition, one of the world's longest-running undergraduate business case competitions. He says he "fell in love with the people and the culture."

“The reason why I started this whole thing is because I have a need to do water projects in Latin America,” he explained. “That’s what truly makes me happy right now.”

— caroline@obj.ca