A UK start-up that has declared itself the “Airbnb of luggage” is offering customers the chance to leave their bags at ‘stash points’ at hotels and convenience stores.
CityStasher was the brainchild of Oxford graduates Anthony Collias, Jacob Wedderburn and Matt Majewski.
The concept was born when Collias used to live near Kings Cross in London and his friends baulked at the “extortionate” price of leaving luggage at a station.
The principle is straightforward. ‘Hosts’, typically hotels, but can be anything from convenience stores to delivery firms’ HQs, are paid to look after bags of guests and CityStasher as the middle man takes the commission.
The start-up claims to offer prices as much as 50% cheaper than most train stations, with 24-hour storage starting from £6 and three hours costing £4.
It currently has just under 100 ‘StashPoints’ in the UK and has opened its first overseas in Amsterdam.
Collias said: “Me and my brother used to live in central London and people always used to ask us if they could leave things at our house.
“It was when we were first toying with the concept when we realised there was a gap I the market for short term luggage.
“For consumers it’s a cheaper option and for hotels it’s an extra revenue stream.”
He said it made sense to use companies that are used to dealing with luggage and have a manned desk as hosts, so hotels were the natural fit.
It turns out a major use point that the firm has found is for hotel guests arriving early while the rise of Airbnb, which Collias said is typically “less accommodating than hotels”, is something they’ve also capitalised on.
He said CityStasher has been “quietly working away” during its soft launch in the last nine months, but is now ready to “make some noise” as partnerships edge towards 100.
So what’s wrong with the traditional firms, like Left Luggage?
Economics graduate Collias says: “They are just crazy expensive [Left Luggage charges £12.50 for 24 hours at Euston] and they are often very busy at all the times you would actually want to use them, like weekends, so you end up queuing.”
London is the key market so far, but StashPoints have emerged in Oxford, Brighton and Cambridge as well as the Dutch capital. Overseas is certainly part of the expansion plans.
“If you read TripAdvisor message boards, it sounds like many existing baggage drops are always full or often faulty,” Collias said. “There’s certainly opportunity to grow.”
And the company is already growing, 25% month-on-month Travolution was told.
The firm is already making “meaningful revenue” and has attracted interest from James Gibson, chief executive of storage giant Big Yellow Group – in a personal capacity – Collias stressed.
CityStasher is in the process of trying to raise a second round of funding, and may consider crowdfunding.
On the trio’s venture into the world of luggage, Collias said: “We all knew that we wanted to follow a less conventional path. We knew that we were interested in start-ups and small business.”
Collias worked in online marketing while Wedderburn and Majewski completed masters degrees – the whole time working up the CityStasher idea.