Meet the Founder

Introducing Stasher: the Airbnb of the luggage world

Tanisha Fletcher
January 25, 2024

Simpatica talks to Jacob Wedderburn-Day, CEO of Stasher: the global baggage storage company.

Stasher is a sharing economy solution for storage. Framed as the “Airbnb of Luggage”​, Stasher offers a global network of hotels and stores with extra space where travellers can find affordable, convenient storage for their belongings. Named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 last year, Jacob tells us about his founder journey, and his new venture, Treepoints.

Where did the idea for Stasher come from?

Jacob: Ant [co-founder of Stasher] and I were studying at a time when Airbnb was becoming really popular. I remember we were looking at those sharing economy/platform business models and we had a lot of conversations about how it would be really fun to go into business together and apply a similar model but to a different problem. It was this sharing economy concept that got our imagination going because it is such a scalable thing that you can start without big investment or capital, you just need a website that connects supply and demand.

Because Ant was living at Kings Cross at the time, he always had people asking to store stuff at his place before they got a train or flight. The story we often tell is that we would joke about how he would charge me when I needed storage and the idea came from there. It kind of came together with Ant just repeatedly texting me, “AIRBNB FOR BAGS, AIRBNB FOR BAGS”.

At the same time, I was at UCL for my Masters and we entered into this startup business competition. It was a great structure to develop our initial idea for Stasher and although we came second in the competition, we decided screw it let’s just build it anyway! So, we built the website the next day and got our first customer a week after that.

How does Stasher differ from a self-storage facility?

Jacob: It’s different from self-storage because it caters to short-term storage. The Stashpoints aren’t owned or rented by us – we are just taking advantage of space that already exists. Our model means we can be anywhere in the world because we can just pop up in city centres since we aren’t paying for the central prices. This is good from a customer’s perspective too and means our Stashpoints aren’t miles out of town!

From both perspectives, this is much more useful for short-term storage, and whilst we can cater for up to a month, our customers normally just do a day or a week. This means we are normally a lot cheaper too.

Finally, we have a custom insurance policy in place that ensures every bag is insured through us to the tune of £1000 against loss, theft, or damage. Ultimately, it is the store’s responsibility, but the beauty is that it’s difficult for things to go wrong and we have successfully and safely stored half a million bags so far.

Stasher luggage company

Above: Anthony Collias and Jacob Wedderburn-Day, co-founders of Stasher

What things have proved essential in building trust and helping users to decide to try using Stasher?

Jacob: I’ve spoken a lot about this and the most important ingredients are 1) the insurance deal, 2) working with trusted brands (e.g. Premier Inn, who people know and trust), and 3) CCTV set up. These are the core basics to definitely get right.

There is also the thought design – so making sure the design of your website and app is secure and friendly, so people will trust it. We modelled what Airbnb did well and tried to implement it into Stasher. Review platforms, like Trustpilot, are also really important, as well as having comprehensive and reliable customer support. We will always be at the end of a phone to reassure our customers and I think that is really important for customer experience and what encourages people to keep using Stasher.

Is there a target user demographic for a service like this?

Jacob: Demographics is an interesting one because I think you would always assume it’s backpackers. But the age demographic is probably 25-45. We definitely see lots of families with kids, but we also have older people who don’t really fancy carrying their stuff around a city who find our service really helpful!

We’ve tried to be demographic agnostic and just target all travellers. I think we have a product market fit and before Covid came, we were hitting £2 million+ in revenue and had over 1000 customers every day. In terms of traction and scale, we knew we were serving a need in the market and that is gradually (and hopefully!) coming back.

Was there any reluctance in becoming a founder?

Jacob: I think people overegg the risk of being a founder. The truth is, if it goes wrong, you’ve just lost time but you’ve gained good experience. If it does work out, you’ve also gained experience, but you’ve also got a big upside – obviously, it also depends on how much you back yourself and what you are trying to achieve. We’ve always said we don’t think there is anything noble about the whole, I’m going to give up everything and invest all I have into this, just because I believe in it. If you put too much in, you risk making bad decisions because it becomes too personal. We actually made a point of not raising money through friends and family, and we said we would put in £500 each and see it roll out, and then when we felt like it could make money for itself, we would see if we could get investment.

We actually pinged off a cold email to the CEO of Big Yellow Storage, James Gibson, and asked for advice. We ended up meeting him at one of his warehouses and had to write him a proper business plan. It’s funny because this was actually at the same time as my university dissertation and I ended up putting way more time into Stasher than into that! After Big Yellow expressed interest in leading the round, a few more investors wanted to join. We had this big meeting in the Radisson by Portman Square and it culminated in them offering us £100k – the deal was a no-brainer. I remember Ant and I went around the corner to make a show of deliberating but we were basically like “YES”.

So that was 2016 and was really awesome – that was the end of the first round of investment. Then we both went full-time for Stasher.

Stasher luggage

Above: Anthony Collias and Jacob Wedderburn-Day, co-founders of Stasher

Where do you see the travel sector in ten years’ time?

Jacob: I hope it will be much better than it is right now. However, I do think climate change makes people a lot more conscious of environmental concerns when travelling. But once things start to lift, I think people will be desperate to get back exploring. We’ll hopefully see a shift towards sustainable travel, where people will still get to see the world, but they’ll move around it in a more conscientious way.

Tell us about Treepoints…

Jacob: With Stasher obviously paused for most of 2020 (as you can imagine!), we knew we wanted something else to put our energy into. Ant and I asked ourselves what we really cared about… and the two obvious answers were climate change and financial inequity. The idea for Treepoints was a good way to tackle both!

It’s a social enterprise designed to help the average person understand and offset their carbon footprint in a cheap and easy way. With subscriptions starting at £3.25 per month, it seems that anyone can offset an average of 6 tonnes of CO2 per year; not only demonstrating the huge need for offsetting but also making action understandable and viable!

Are there any conflicts between Stasher and Treepoints?

Jacob: I’m very conscious of this conflict and there was part of Treepoints where I felt guilty for campaigning for people to travel. The one good thing about the pandemic is that when people stopped travelling so much, it was really good for the environment – so there’s a conflict in that sense.

But in all honesty, Stasher doesn’t really have a big carbon footprint, it is just helping people on pre-existing trips. The synergies should help travel companies become a lot greener.

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