Boulder City native finds success in app that brings storage space to sharing economy
Friday 23 April 2021 | 2 a.m
Growing up in Boulder City, Joseph Woodbury believed he would likely become a lawyer, like many of his family.
After graduating from Boulder City High School in 2011 and after a two-year mission in the church, a Brigham Young University classmate asked a question that would change the course of Woodbury’s life.
“My friend was running a business and needed to go and work out of the country for a few months,” Woodbury said. “He needed a storage unit for some items. He found out he had to drive 30 minutes to the next town just to find an open storage unit.
Instead, Woodbury’s friend Preston Alder found a friend in his neighborhood who was willing to offer temporary storage space.
Thus came the idea of Neighbor, a sharing economy storage marketplace that connects those looking to store items – from boxes of random items to a lawn mower or vehicle – with others in a particular area wishing to rent space. Firearms, drugs, explosives, hazardous materials or pesticides are prohibited items.
Much like ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, Neighbor connects people through an app.
Founded in 2017, Neighbor, which has approximately 50 employees, is used in all 50 US states.
“When (Preston) told me about it, I thought it was just about the best idea I’ve ever heard,” said Woodbury. “We started and here we are.”
The department oversees a monthly rental agreement between the two parties.
A person can rent any area – including a garage, spare bedroom, basement, land on a property or outhouse – with rates based on several factors, including geographic area and location. size and scope of stored items. For example, a 25ft by 45ft rented garage in Las Vegas would cost around $ 400 per month.
For the contract to be finalized, the two parties will agree on the hours when the tenant can access their property. The neighbor earns money by taking a percentage of the fees each month.
Through Neighbor, the renter has up to $ 25,000 insurance in case something happens to their items. All hosts are covered up to $ 1 million, Woodbury said.
Carlos Macias, a landscaper from Las Vegas, owns a large urban lot with several outbuildings and available space. He stores two cars for two different tenants and stores furniture for another small business owner in one of his garages.
He plans to rent more space and believes he can use his neighbor’s income to make his monthly mortgage payment in full. He already earns about $ 1,000 a month.
“I was skeptical at first,” Macias said. “After posting my ad on Neighbor, people called me after about a week. I’ve already turned people down. One person wanted to park a motorhome and another had semi-finals, which I just didn’t want to do.
The neighbor shows no sign of disappointment. Earlier this year, he announced that he had raised $ 53 million in a “Series B” fundraising round, a milestone that usually comes after the first rounds of “seed” funding for a startup.
So far, in just a few years of its existence, Neighbor has raised over $ 60 million from investors.
Neighbor is actively disrupting the storage industry in the United States, which brings in nearly $ 40 billion in revenue annually, according to market research firm IBISWorld.
Woodbury said there is plenty of room for the industry to grow.
“In the United States, there are more storage facilities than McDonald’s, Dunkin ‘Donuts, Home Depots, Costcos and Walmart combined,” Woodbury said. “You could literally fit every man, woman, and child in America into the storage units we’ve built, and they’re over 90% full, that’s the craziest thing.”
As an environmentally conscious person, Woodbury said it just made more sense for Americans to use the space they already have, instead of building more “dusty concrete storage units”.
He also said he was proud that the market provides a way to get neighbors in towns to interact with each other, a feeling that perhaps stems from Woodbury’s roots in a small town.
The company has already turned heads in the tech world. DoorDash CEO Tony Xu became an investor this year, while former Uber CEO Ryan Graves was already on board.
“I never imagined, as a kid in Boulder City High School who might have wanted to become a lawyer, that I would have raised $ 65 million for a startup,” Woodbury said. “It wasn’t on my radar. When we started the business, we started to participate in trade contests, and some investors saw us and contacted us. It was a lot of fun.
While he didn’t expect to become a well-known tech disruptor, Woodbury’s family have been used to being in the public eye.
Joseph’s grandfather, Bruce Woodbury, is the former Clark County Commissioner and namesake of the 50 mile ring road in Las Vegas.
His father, Rod Woodbury, is a former mayor of Boulder City.
Today, Joseph Woodbury lives in Utah with his wife – high school sweetheart and a 2011 student at Boulder City High School, Chloe Woodbury – and four children.
“I like to tell people that I have five startups,” Joseph said. “The neighbor is definitely a big commitment. It made me better appreciate the people who start businesses, just the amount of work you put into them. But it is very satisfying. We have really grown a lot.