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Instant Short-Term Storage with Vertoe’s Sid Khattri

February 29, 2020

Luggage Storage Anywhere, Anytime.

Sid Khattri is Co-Founder and CEO of Vertoe.

Vertoe is America's first on-demand, short-term luggage storage service that offers 600+ secure locations to store personal items citywide across 50+ major cities in the US. Whether you are looking for short-term locker rentals alternatives, daily space or even hourly storage space, Vertoe services are a quantum leap from conventional luggage storage.

Learn more about how Vertoe can make traveling with luggage easier by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on  Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.

Right with us right now. We've got Sid Khattri.  You are the Founder of Vertoe. And so what you do get going and explain what you do. Let me say what I think you do, you're kind of like the Airbnb of short term storage and you and I just got done kind of having a little pre interview chat here. And now that I understand the use cases, this is actually pretty brilliant and I'm going to be I listen, I think it's good. This is definitely going to be a thing. So you heard it here. Maybe first. You guys have had some some notoriety already with that with TechStars and some other things. But yeah, if you could, in your words kind of explain what Vertoe is,

sure, Josh, thank you for having me. So they can afford to is an on demand short term storage marketplace, where we connect people who are looking to store their bags and personal items for a few hours or days to new nearby local shops and businesses that have space. So as we as we create like the short term storage market, Our vision is to give you your instant storage space anywhere, anytime. So you have the feeling of cloud storage within the real physical world.

You know, I'll give you a great case you so my wife and I just went to Phoenix, Arizona, flew into the airport, went to visit a client for a couple of hours. And then we what we had to do because we had our suitcases with us stuff right? We had to take an Uber all the way up to our hotel in Scottsdale and then we were stuck up there I mean, which is fine I mean there's plenty to do we wanted to see Phoenix and we couldn't do that because we're like well we got the luggage you got to do something with the luggage so you've come up with the solution co so kind of explain you know, there's one example right there but if you can kind of talk a little bit more about how it works

Yeah, sure. So so usually like you know, typically people are just like you said stuck with bags like you know, either while traveling sometimes outside like event venues la you know, numerous situations where it's kind of bizarre thing that the world doesn't have short term storage like Self Storage is monthly, or like more and then what do you do if you have something for a few hours or a few days and I think the way this works is like super simple so we like you know, the moment you're stuck. We want like you to experience this magic within five minutes. You get rid of your stuff, right? So so what we do is we partner with like local shops and businesses. They are usually They, you know, spread out across like, you know, pretty, pretty, pretty much every place on the planet. And like, what happens is like if they have a little unused space, they're going to list that on our platform, you can book that within two minutes on our mobile website or the app and then literally within a three four minute walk, just drop off your stuff and get the freedom to experience in like Maximizer right so that's kind of like a super simple like, you know, explanation but how will you dive into like, you know, whatever you want to dig in more and

so Vertoe is on the web@vrte.com and said, Can you kind of give us like your, your startup story? Sure.

So this started when I was personally start, like my co founder and I were traveling on a multi City West Coast trip a few years ago and Los Angeles was our final stop and what was supposed to be like the super exciting day where we had like bunch of activities planned in LA and like, you know, deliberately planned a red eye flight back to New York City absolutely begin the worst the worst vacation day we ever had, because We got stuck with three bags for six hours, which they, you know, we didn't like, anticipate. And then we were just like scrambling to figure out a place to keep those bags. And when we came back, like, you know, I think I think what was bizarre was we just kept wondering what the hell happened like when we were in essence, right? Like we were like we were supposed to be at like Malibu we were supposed to go to, like Venice like, but we did none of that, like, you know, and it just doesn't make sense like that when we were desperately looking for a place to like, you know, in a safe and convenient, affordable way store our stuff, there was nothing like just nothing, you know, and that that is what like, you know, kind of led us to like this search. So, I mean, I worked at Google at the time and and quite honestly, I have no background in either travel or storage, but I worked in product and I love solving problems. And like, you know, it just became like this little weekend experiment where we were like, you know what, like, let's figure it out what's going on? Like, why was there nothing like in such an innovative place like America, where like every day we see like new innovation happening new businesses, there's no short term storage, like so. So they you know, it progressive We became a weekend experiment we kind of like were moonlighting at first for almost more than a year. But then they you know, suddenly like you know, things fell into place we had some we had this very strong notion based on our user research that we wanted to create something so you have that like magical Uber ready in five minutes like you know, this problem gets solved right? Like you have that instant gratification and and we feel like and we strongly believe that Uber is not Uber just because they can send you a cab because you could have caught you can still call a cab from traditional cab companies, they will still show show outside our doorstep it's just going to take me like a 20 minute or 30 minute wait, sometimes Uber is over because somehow like in five minutes a cab appears out of nowhere in front of and that is a magical feeling like in five minutes candidates right so for customers to have that beautiful lake affordable and like convenient experience. We had this notion that we want to design something which works in like five minutes like that. And really, you know, as we talked through this, when we looked into like the storage industry, the traditional storage industry realized they had some like inherent problems in their business models. anywhere outside the city they had like these huge warehouses so a lot of cost pressure because of like maintaining those warehouses so they stuck with the long term monthly model because they wanted like more cost out of these like transactions and like you know save on those real estate expenses and all of that and by partnering with like local shops and using all the unused space that was already available in society we like you know created a simple solution which is absolutely easy to access. So you can find it in urban markets within five minutes over you are the shops are instantly accessible because they have some like you know, commercial like you know, ours that they remain open and so we can guarantee that you can just book and walk into it yeah in a few minutes. So by doing that and then designing a very simple mobile interface like you know, which you can literally in three minutes like book the entire like, you know, space from the moment you think I need storage helped us create like this feeling that in five minutes, it can happen, you know, so yeah,

so that's what that's kind of


Forgive me. How did you get connected with tech stars and what is that process like,

Yeah, great question. So So TechStars like it was, we were very lucky because we missed the deadline for their batch to be on. Really what happened was, right before, like the Thanksgiving week in 2017, we were like, no looking into the, you know, fundraising because we started getting some traction, we had about $18,000 of monthly gross revenue coming into a few people were using our service, we're getting like five star ratings from these people. So we felt like we now had something going and you're trying to raise money and like, you know, it's kind of funny, but I was talking to one of my other like, you know, ex Google friends who quit Google and started his own company, and he had gone to tech stars and he spoke very highly of tech stars. And he was like you in your position. I absolutely, like you know, ready to be at Tech stars where you have some initial customer traction, you've created something which is working, so it's not a paper plan, and they can help you accelerate whatever you're doing so so it's funny, we missed the deadline. He put an intro for us like you know, separately and TechStars was Like deliberating between the final like 10 that they're going to, you know, finally accepting the New York program. And we were just lucky that they were like two three spots left, made the managing director of TechStars met the director of TechStars midday, like Program Manager went through a few interviews, and it worked out. Yeah, it's funny, all happened in a week.

So they do now.

Now you're bringing all your own talent, your developers and that sort of thing, but you're just kind of under the guidance of I mean, you you get some consulting and that sort of thing in that environment. Is that right? Absolutely. So I think so the TechStars is a very, like, you know, I think polished program. They've been there for a while they've seen I think, if I'm not wrong, they have over like 17 1800 companies that they've accelerated in the past decade. So like, pretty much they've seen it all in that sense, and they know exactly how to maximize your time in the first like, you know, three months as you go through this program, so they like you know, basically the first month you spend in TechStars is pretty much you and them trying To figured out every aspect of your business right like yeah dies and like go deep in all things marketing product operations, hiring, like co founder dynamic fundraising like you don't so you get like some sense of all all these things from them and consulting and help on all these aspects then they do another month of just growth so like figured out and actually test things and try to keep growing every week and then the final month is more towards like you know, it kind of shift to towards like fundraising because like to really power your growth you do need some capital after that. So TechStars like really helps you to find the business further and make you ready to be in that state where you can have a conversation with big investors and say like, you know, what your vision is articulate things beautifully, have a plan clear business plan on things and then you're able to successfully fundraise thanks to that and then said part of that or maybe what came out of that is you found a an investor that or you got found and acquired a seed round of some sort, what was that process? Like? Yeah, so fundraising, I'm sure like, you know, as we This is a very interesting journey, especially in the early ages, especially for first time founders. I feel so, you know, be so tech stars, thankfully has a great network, where they give you a head start, right. So yeah, the end of the match you with a lot of investors who are in the right industry who do like, you know, the right check sizes for a company like ours, so they help you like, you know, get that initial Head Start. And then during the entire process, like, you know, again, you you meet so many people, it's, it's like a pipeline, you start managing it goes for a few months in LA, you know, fundraising can be complex, depending on like, you know, the supply demand in the market and how much people believe in your concept, how much traction? Yeah, and like, How were you able to articulate all of that so, so for us, like, you know, we were guided by TechStars very closely, like, you know, in that process, at all moments, like when we were struggling, but then I think like, you know, for us, the reality was, we started very quickly, we raised a lot of like, you know, initially we got about $500,000 in our round, very good Wow, then there was like this, which happened all in like, three, four weeks, and then a month of nothing basically very, like, our entire belief got shaken that if this round is ever going to get to our target of one point, like, you know, $2 million, which we were trying to raise at the time. And then finally, like, you know, after pretty much losing hope in this process, we all we need is just one person, right? Who has a good, you know, understanding who believes in the vision, who can write that check size, and we found that person and then magic happened after that, which is once you get like, you know, up to like, you know, your, your closing stage for fundraising, suddenly, a lot more people are interested at the last. Yeah, yeah. So so like, you know, once we hit $1.2 million that we were trying to raise, we saw more people that are super interested, and we had to, like towards the end increase our downsize to $1.8 million. We, in fact, like no to like about $200,000 of investment because we were just not ready to absorb that much capital at the time. Yeah. So it's funny like, you know, it started It Off amazing there was like this patch in between like, which was very stressful and nothing was happening. And really, if this thing is ever going to close, and then suddenly towards the end like it was just bigger than what we originally planned for it and it just worked out amazing. Amazing.

So, so what lies ahead then for the next six to 12 months for our town?

Yeah, so I think, you know, we now have great product market fit, like you know, as a as a company, we've our base model is working really well. Our NPS scores are over 70, which is in the excellent category. All we want to do now is scale and grow faster. So that you know a bulk majority of our audience is travelers and for them like you know, geography matters because they you know, if someone uses you in New York City like that the next day, they're not in New York City because they were traveling in New York City and then potentially next one, they're in Los Angeles, right? So you want to make sure they were to find work over there as well. So so we want to expand to more cities, we already have a presence in 30 cities and now like the plan is to test a few international cities like specifically 20 that we've identified or The next one year apart from that, like, we also do want to, like, you know, keep learning about these emerging like, you know, use cases in New York City. So like I was saying like people users at like event venues and LA, you know, continue like, you know, learning and building for those people. But if if that requires some like product week some little bit of acquisition peaks kind of keep figuring that out. So that way, you know, in the next one year, we can confidently say that he will log down travel, which is where our focus was, and have been going back consistently. And we're also learning about like these other behaviors which are emerging in the marketplace and have more learnings to pump in capital behind those in our next fundraising. Yeah,

well, I checked on vertoe.com. Again, that's Vertoe. And if you're in Orlando, we got a location right by sea world and location right by Universal Studios. And so hopefully what's coming up by Disney real quick, too. So if you happen to be in Orlando and you need a place to drop your bags off $5.95 a day, you have a $5,000 insurance policy on it as well. And so and if you go to the website site, you can learn exactly how it works. You know, certainly. And I would imagine you guys have an app as well. Yes, we have an iOS app with and I would think that that would be, yeah, that would that would go pretty well with your traveler audience.

Yeah, for sure. And we're going to reload the Android app in the next 111. So that's also cool. Yeah.

Well, congratulations. Thank you. Well Sid Khattri, you're the Founder of Vertoe. And again, you're on the web@vrte.com. Congratulations on your success so far, and we'll be watching your rise with great interest. Thank you very much, and thank you for giving me this opportunity

was a pleasure.

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