WINDSOR — Stow, an app for finding parking and storage from peers, won the University of Northern Colorado Monfort College of Business’ Entrepreneurial Challenge April 28, but the journey actually started back at Thanksgiving.
It was the first time Devin Eldridge, chief executive of Windsor-based Symmetry Storage LLC, whose background is as a licensed CPA, had to write a formal business plan.
“A business plan makes you think about everything and prove your feasibility,” Eldridge said. “It’s painful, but good to go through and think about how your business should operate.”
When Symmetry Storage applied for the MCB Challenge in November, it was just a two-year-old company run by Eldridge and his brother Dillon, who is chief technology officer.
The app works as a marketplace, partnering those who need space for storage with those who would like to rent out a garage, shed, parking spot or other potential free space.
The idea started when Devin was moving from Fort Collins to Windsor, and needed storage for just three days. But the shortest term he could find was a self-storage unit for a whole month, for which he had to pay $400.
He started working on the idea as a side project and took it on full-time a year ago, leaving his job at Otterbox.
At the urging of last year’s winner, The Food Corridor’s CEO, Ashley Colpaart, and as a way to build the company and get an influx of funds without giving away equity, Eldridge entered his business plan during the first round of the challenge over Thanksgiving.
By the end of December, he had heard back that his app was selected for the next round, which required a 15 minute in-depth pitch and 15 minute Q-and-A.
Symmetry Storage is a small company — Eldridge just hired Carmelo Mannino as director of growth three months ago. The company hasn’t gone through any incubator or accelerator, which means Eldridge learned how to pitch on his own, and through informal mentorship from Colpaart.
“I just really stuck to the criteria provided and prepared for it, and listened to feedback from other people,” he said.
Symmetry Storage made it to the final five, and on April 28 it provided a high-level pitch to judges and won the $25,000 first prize.
Eldridge said that the money will go to growing the app’s presence city by city. Although the app can be used anywhere, most of its customers who are offering rental space are in Northern Colorado or Denver.
The storage marketplace — think AirBnB, but for leasing storage space — is a fragmented field, Eldrige said, with two other apps in Canada and not much else in the United States. That means plenty of room for competition and growing in Colorado, he said.
In addition to marketing, the company is considering adding new features to its app and possibly partnering with a storage-unit partner.
“We’re doing a lot with a few resources,” he said. “We have the ability to continue to grow the product. We’re going to build it city by city.”