How to Scale Commercial Real Estate Podcast with Sam Wilson On the New York City Podcast Network

The Future Of Vehicle Storage, Make Money Off Your Extra Land

Do you know that you can earn extra income from your extra space STOW IT CEO Carmelo Mannino joins us to discuss how you can monetize your vacant real estate He and his team provide parking solutions for people who are looking for an affordable and convenient way to store their vehicles while also giving passive income opportunities to hosts There s a huge potential in this market and as they continue to grow the business Carmelo anticipates being able to expand to other markets across the United States Tune in if you re curious about vehicle storage 00 01 – 02 28 From Renting Out Backyards to Building a Business Carmelo shares how it started from a personal problem Realizing the big demand for vehicle storage 02 29 – 11 49 Venturing into Vehicle Storage How they have scaled so far The challenge of getting both the renters and the hosts onboard Finding properties and building demand Carmelo on the greatest opportunity right now in the market What you need to have before start renting out your space People are always buying vehicles so there is always a demand The sales side of vehicle storage Being a resource and support to hosts Reaching out to the informal market How the company makes their money Their plan to expand 10x in the next two years Funding through angel investors and people who use and are satisfied with their product 13 57 – 16 26 Self-storage Has A Supply Problem Taking a huge advantage of the demand Not owning real estate but earning through connecting renters and hosts Striving to become the largest provider in the industry 16 27 – 18 12 Closing Segment Reach out to Carmelo Links Below Final Words Tweetable Quotes You got to think of these as like a business-to-business relationship Even though it s one person and one truck it s a bit different than storing your RV That s their livelihood – Carmelo Mannino We like to say we handle all the headaches for our property owners you know If you re going to buy a piece of land all you have to do is move them in and assign them their spot – Carmelo Mannino Self-storage has a supply problem especially when it comes to vehicles And we have this huge advantage in that we don t have to purchase and develop real estate to gain supply in a city – Carmelo Mannino —————————————————————————– Connect with Carmelo Head over to the STOW IT website if you re interested in becoming a renter or a host Email Carmelo directly at carmelo stowit com and follow him on LinkedIn Connect with me I love helping others place money outside of traditional investments that both diversify a strategy and provide solid predictable returns Facebook LinkedIn Like subscribe and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts Spotify Google Podcasts or whatever platform you listen on Thank you for tuning in Email me sam brickeninvestmentgroup com Want to read the full show notes of the episode Check it out below Carmelo Mannino 00 00 We want to become the largest provider of vehicle storage in the country And with that comes the most robust set of data of anyone that we ll have in the country when it comes to supply and demand discrepancies and vehicle storage So we believe there s absolutely an opportunity whether it s us or an outside investment group or some of our current investors that are self-storage owners and operators have expressed interest You know they want this data to know where should I buy my next yard Intro 00 24 Welcome to the How to Scale Commercial Real Estate Show Whether you are an active or passive investor we ll teach you how to scale your real estate investing business into something big Sam Wilson 00 33 Carmelo Mannino is the CEO and co-founder of STOW IT STOW IT is a marketplace for vehicle storage Carmelo s background is in digital marketing and consumer-facing applications And he started STOW IT with two brothers in 2017 And they are growing rapidly Carmelo welcome to the show Carmelo Mannino 00 53 Thanks for having me Sam Great to be here Sam Wilson 00 54 Hey man the pleasure is mine Three questions I ask every guest who comes on the show in 90 seconds or less where did you start Where are you now And how did you get there Carmelo Mannino 01 01 Yep we started by accident personal problem finding self-storage We started renting out basements turned out to be a terrible idea And then we pivoted to garages So right now where we re at is stone is an online marketplace where we help individuals with barns garages land driveways anything that can store an item on wheels that s RVs semis cars trucks It s got wheels we ve probably stored it where we re at right now is obviously a marketplace for vehicle storage and looking to expand We ve built a great business in Denver and starting to go beyond so the next few years is us expanding to more cities around the country with this kind of turnkey business model we ve created Sam Wilson 01 41 Interesting So what caused you to think of this business Carmelo Mannino 01 45 So one of the founders was moving and it was two brothers myself and Dylan and Devin Eldridge and Devin was moving in his house closed three days before his new house opened and he had to pay 400 for three days of self-storage and he thought there s got to be a better way So he started opening up his basement to buddies and friends that he knew needed self-storage and then that ended up with us opening up our backyards and driveways to vehicles And from that we found that self-storage was hard to do It was if you can imagine a buddy moves in you re gonna help them you re not going to make a lot of money And it s only gonna be for short term Whereas with a vehicle an RV it s much longer term it s a higher dollar value and it s less hassle for property owners Sam Wilson 02 28 What so you guys have built a platform you re the Uber of storage That is really interesting And you guys have built this out in Denver Carmelo Mannino 02 37 We ve built it out in Denver and a bit beyond too We touch a few niches like long-term airport parking semi storage where we have a national reach with both of those That includes 40 locations around the country most of your major metros and cities Whereas in Denver we focus a lot on what we call our peer-to-peer model So that s individuals like yourself or myself renting out garages driveways barns farmland That s one of our big ones You know we re really a suburban business People in the city that have the extra cars or have the RV we help them go to find the spot in the suburbs to store their RV Sam Wilson 03 12 Right No I think that s absolutely brilliant What has been some of your challenges getting this scaled or even getting people to know about it Carmelo Mannino 03 21 We re really building two businesses at once because we ve got to get the property owners on board and establish trust with that community And then we ve got to get the renters on board as well And you know we ve built great technology we ve custom build everything ourselves to be a really good matchmaker in terms of finding what you need While we re always looking for more on both sides more properties and more renters You know if you live let s say you live in Memphis you don t want to go 45 minutes to store your RV you want something pretty close to you So we re always looking for more property So really the challenge is just growing both sides of the market It s really a chicken and egg problem And we encounter that every time we go into a new market So for example we re expanding to Atlanta right now And we ve got some property owners and now we ve got to build up the demand And then once we fill those left to build up more property owners and more demand eventually we get to a spot like where we re at in Denver where it kind of becomes a flywheel and starts running itself a little bit where you know we ve got great SEO we ve got enough property owners to where we almost always have vacancies and we ve got enough renters that are repeat renters looking to always rent with us in the Denver area Sam Wilson 04 29 But what s the greatest opportunity that you see because I m certain that as you touch all of these different things from you know regular just vehicle storage or boat storage or RV storage to you know industrial to shipping I mean you see you re touching all of it What s the greatest opportunity right now in the commercial sector Carmelo Mannino 04 50 Right now it s the semi storage It s the 75-foot truck and trailer you know they go by big rig tractor-trailer semi-truck trailer That s a huge missing piece in terms of the supply There s just not enough supply for these guys there s 1 5 million drivers on the road and any given night 500 000 places for them to park And that s why you see them on the side of highways whenever you travel there all the rest stops on all the highways because there just isn t The inventory wasn t built you have these national large REITs that want to provide the highest return on investment and kudos to them And that s what they should be doing But they re going to build five by fives and five by 10s They re not building 75 by 15 which is what a semi-truck and trailer needs So that s a huge opportunity Right now we re working with multiple funds right now that are looking to get involved in the semi storage industry Sam Wilson 05 42 Yeah that sounds I mean easily adaptable in the sense that you by I mean correct me here because I don t own any of this obviously have a background at one point in the parking business But I mean you ve got a fence you ve got a yard security cameras and then marked off spaces controlled access is there anything I m missing there Carmelo Mannino 06 01 May be a person to move them in every once in a while But once they do that they re fantastic renters what it is is called over the road drivers And these are individuals where 90 of this industry is I own one truck and one trailer And that s how they make their livelihood So once you move them in you know what we find is they re on a shift they re on a schedule So they ll be there Thursday through Saturday and then they ll be on the road Sunday through Wednesday And it s a very consistent month after month But you re right it s a really low development costs especially if you can buy heavy industrial or even some cities and counties light industrial allow it as well If you can find that land if you can put down the gravel put up an automated fence some security cameras mark the spots you know you re in business Sam Wilson 06 45 That is really really interesting You know I mean at this day and age like a lot of truckers are now becoming accredited investors That s the thing as well as that you have people that are making really good money driving a truck right now and that are able to obviously pay good rent what happens in economic downturn How does this business get affected Carmelo Mannino 07 07 As we saw in COVID actually you know when we hit a little bit of a downturn there actually more people went to the trucking industry they were able to hire some drivers But you know 90 of things that we own is on a semi-truck at any given point in time So even if that number goes down there s still a huge shortage If consumerism slows down by a bit there s still a shortage of semi-drivers There s a drastic need right now for more drivers So I don t think that industry slows down at all I think what we ve also seen a huge invest a huge opportunity on the not-so-commercial side is you look at companies like Winnebago and Mastercraft boats they ve got billions and billions of dollars of backlogged inventory You know you can t buy a brand new RV until 2024 Right now if you re getting it custom built So what we ve seen is an economic downturn people are still buying these toys you know they re not buying so much stuff they re buying bigger items And that s these vehicles the semi drivers so that s their career And that s their job So you know if anything they re going to try and expand and try and grow You got to think of these as like a business-to-business relationship Even though it s one person and one truck it s a bit different than storing your RV That s their livelihood Sam Wilson 08 18 When you guys go to a new city in this case it s Atlanta for you right How do you even approach penetrating that market Carmelo Mannino 08 25 It s a lot of sales My theory on business is almost everything is sales You re always selling But you know we ve got to get the property owners first and foremost and that s how we think about it We ve got to have the inventory there to where when we attract the demand they ve got multiple options to store You know the big advantage of STOW IT in our marketplace over traditional storage is that we can offer the customers a wider variety of spaces If you want a one-car private garage we want to have that If you want to share five spots in a bar and we want to have that Traditional storage we work with the traditional industry as well We don t run from them we try to integrate them onto our platform So the first part we think about is let s get supply In our market we call supply and demand for us our renters and hosts We want to get our property owners there start forming relationships with them And then we worry about finding the demand and filling those spots Sam Wilson 09 17 Tell me that process There s got to be a sales process or you know how do you guys attract both sets I guess both of them are customers So how do you attract them Carmelo Mannino 09 26 Yeah a lot of inbound marketing well on our property owner side you know We write a lot about how do you safely rent out your garage or barn We ve got contracts you can find us stowit com We ve got a how should you price your space as stowit com You know a lot of great helpful tools Most of the individuals we work with we re not using their land or their barn in their garage for storage before us So they re entering a new really new business right so new income for them and a lot of our hosts pay their mortgage every month with us So it can be serious income and they need a company there to help them so we want to be a resource first and foremost for our property owners providing great support But it is reaching out to a lot of these what we call it the informal market You know Craigslist has a parking and storage section Facebook marketplace we will call warehouses that we know have you know additional storage it can make additional revenue But once you try it and you start making additional revenue you realize it s not a lot of effort it s very low risk And the more energy you can get the more income you can make So you re just limited by the size of your property So yeah lots of sales calls to kind of kickstart a market eventually you start getting more referrals in a market people start researching seeing you on Google And then for the demand side we do we use virtual assistants that post on Craigslist that post on Facebook on a daily basis We use Google ads we use SEO we write blogs we handle all the marketing We like to say we handle all the headache for our property owners you know Iff you re going to buy a piece of land all you have to do is move them in and assign them their spot So you know if you ve got marked spots you don t even have to be there But you don t you know if you ve got a day job you don t want to hassle with the marketing the payment collections the evictions These are all things that STOW IT handles for you So they re just on autopilot in the background Sam Wilson 11 11 What is the take for you guys Is it on a per you just have a flat Hey this is what we always charge Or is it on a per deal basis How does that work Carmelo Mannino 11 21 More of a flat consistent rate So whatever your list price is so if you list a garage for 100 we re going to take 10 per month from you And we re going to upcharge the renter about 10 So each side of the platform pays a fee to us so that you know we re not just raking our property owners over the coals taken 25-30 from them each month we re taking 10 and then we re up charging the renter on that same side as well Sam Wilson 11 45 Got it Yeah that makes sense You guys have to make money along the way What s the projection for you guys What s the next step in your business Carmelo Mannino 11 52 Yeah we want to 10x within the next two years So we re in a pretty critical stage right now where we ve built a very turnkey business model in the Colorado area We ve got some niches in our business that are beyond Colorado that we ve proven out we want to take our peer model that we ve built to a you know a million plus dollar business in Colorado and build it out to 15 more markets around the country over the next two years We think that this works in about 40 markets around the country And it s not your major it s not LA it s not Chicago it s not New York it s more of an Omaha business as we say Nashville you know these areas where they get rural really quickly outside of a city center and they re growing markets That s where our business will thrive And that s where we want to expand it to Sam Wilson 12 35 Got it man that s absolutely awesome I love the idea how have you guys funded 2017 until now It s five years of you know blood sweat and tears into building a platform that s just now about to take off Have you done that Carmelo Mannino 12 49 You know initially we did have other part-time jobs And we re doing some contracting work and other things all of our backgrounds in technology and consulting or you know mine was in mobile app consulting my development my co-founder was in development consulting Angels have been a huge part of our business and where we ve gotten the money has really been a testament to the product we built because 80 of our funding has come from users of our product So these are individuals like yourself that are somehow involved in real estate typically but not in self-storage And they might have a barn or garage they start using STOW IT they start making money And they say Hey you know this is not exactly my wheelhouse But I understand real estate I understand what you re doing I want to invest in STOW IT We take a guy like I won t give his last name his name is Mark and he s in Castle Rock He s been a real estate developer for 30 years And he has a huge barn Well he makes about 2 500 a month with us So he s just rolled a year back into STOW IT did to 25 000 investment because he said hey I m gonna make 30 000 with you all that I would not have made otherwise Sam Wilson 13 51 Right That s absolutely awesome And you guys are gonna if you can talk about this or not And if you can t you can cut it But you guys are in the middle of a funding round for your next kind of iteration of the business Is that right Carmelo Mannino 14 02 We are Yeah this is going to be our true seed round It s our first kind of large capital raise you know most of our funding to date has been you know Angels smaller checks Right now we re looking to raise 2 5 million at 7 5 million pre-money valuation And that really funds us for the next 24 months It gets us into those 15 markets We believe it takes us from a 1 5-2 million business to around a 20 million business So we think it can provide a great return Like I said it s a pretty easy simple business to understand Right The hard part is getting the hosts and getting the renters but the demand is out there Self-storage has a supply problem especially when it comes to vehicles And we have this huge advantage in that we don t have to purchase and develop real estate to gain supply in a city Sam Wilson 14 48 Right I mean again going back to the Uber of storage that s your value play is that you don t have to build all of it You just need to connect the two parties and then facilitate the transaction Carmelo Mannino 14 59 Exactly Yeah we don t own any real estate but we make almost 20 on all the real estate we work with Sam Wilson 15 06 Right Which is fantastic I love the model What are you guys doing Because I m certain that as you get further and further into this business people are gonna start coming to you with assets to sell They re gonna start coming to you with stuff that said hey you know anybody that wants this What are you guys doing with those with that data right now Carmelo Mannino 15 23 Right now we believe that could be a phase two of our business We want to become the largest provider of vehicle storage in the country And with that comes the most robust set of data of anyone that we ll have in the country when it comes to supply and demand discrepancies in vehicle storage So we believe there s absolutely an opportunity whether it s us or an outside investment group or some of our current investors that are self-storage owners and operators have expressed interest you know they want this data to know where should I buy my next yard You know we look at a market like Minneapolis and it s a pretty frugal market when it comes to vehicle storage semi storage it s one of the most expensive markets in the country And that s data that a traditional storage company would not be able to get because they are not involved in that aspect of storage So examples like that are really big we believe that there is an opportunity out there to buy and own part of our own yards build a more robust management software And really we still want to help individuals But we see an opportunity out there especially in the commercial industry for us to eventually get involved in yards Sam Wilson 16 25 Right Man I love it Carmelo congrats to you guys and the product you ve built so far best of luck to you in the next phase of your business and journey And I think it s really intriguing just like you talked about how you get to connect all the different pieces And maybe someday you ll have more of an active part on the acquisition or you know partnering side of the physical real estate But in this you know what you guys doing right now you don t have to own it and you still get to look at the profit along the way So that s pretty cool I think it s also pretty cool just to hear what you guys see happening on the real estate side of things So loads of fun Thanks for coming on today If our listeners want to get in touch with you or learn more about you what is the best way to do that Carmelo Mannino 17 01 Yeah I am easy to contact my direct email is Carmelo C-A-R-M-E-L-O stowit com You can email at info stowit com Those are two great ways You can sign up whether you re looking to rent a spot if you ve got an RV and you re listening and you need space Hopefully we ve got it in the city you re looking for Or if you re a property owner we re always looking for more property owners around the country We work with large firms we work with everybody from what we call grandma with a one-car garage to companies doing billions of dollars in the parking industry So anywhere in between that we can work with you if you have real estate so we re always looking for more opportunities and ways to expand So email me at carmelo stowit com We get the conversation started Sam Wilson 17 43 Awesome Carmelo thank you so much Have a great day Carmelo Mannino 17 45 All right Thanks Sam Sam Wilson 17 46 Hey thanks for listening to the How to Scale Commercial Real Estate Podcast If you can do me a favor and subscribe and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts Spotify Google Podcasts whatever platform it is you use to listen if you can do that for us that would be a fantastic help to the show It helps us both attract new listeners as well as rank higher on those directories so appreciate you listening Thanks so much and hope to catch you on the next episode Click here to visit this podcast episode