Americans are hoarders: There are now more self-storage facilities in the U.S. than Starbucks and McDonalds combined. Roughly a quarter of garages are too full of stuff to hold a car. The average home has $7,000 worth of unused belongings.
“Every time an asset is just sitting idly around, something else is getting produced,” says John Atcheson, CEO of Stuffstr. “It’s put out there to do that service that could be handled by the thing that’s sitting in the closet or attic or, god forbid, a self-storage unit somewhere.”
Atcheson and cofounder Steve Guttman both used to work at Getaround, a peer-to-peer car-sharing service that addressed a similar problem—most cars sit idle for 22 hours a day. “It’s a ridiculous waste of assets,” Atcheson says. “From that, we began to get an interest in the broader world of wasted assets—things we buy that we really don’t use.”
The app is designed to automatically add online purchases to your personal inventory as soon as you buy them, and products can also be added later. When you realize you’re not using something, with a swipe, the app will give you options to give it away. You can notify family and friends that it’s available, find the nearest place to donate it, or get a recommendation for a service like Give Back Box, which will give you a free shipping label and let you leave donations on your front step.
“The very first thing we’re doing on this is to help people essentially declutter their lives, and do it in a way that avoids landfill and really puts things to good use,” says Atcheson. After researching what people needed—particularly millennials—the startup found that people want to declutter, but also want to do it in a responsible way.
“We talked to a whole bunch of people, and repeatedly got these stories of people who moved from place to place with a pile of things they didn’t want, simply because they couldn’t figure out what to do with it that wasn’t somehow going to just get it off into landfill,” he says. “They wanted so badly to do something good with it that they carried it around with them.”
The app may eventually also help connect people with resale options. At a later point, the startup may also work on trying to help people make more initial use of the things they buy, so objects aren’t just stuffed in a closet until they’re given away.
“You want to be able to maximize the use of an item when someone is owning and using it, but also make them aware of when they’re not using it,” says Atcheson.
For now, they’re focused on helping get products into the hands of someone who’s more likely to use them—or, if they’re worn out, responsibly recycled.
“It’s all about recirculating your things,” he says.
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