When Matti Tarmio’s friend moved abroad, he realized that storage space was both expensive and scarce in cities. No one had found a good solution for storing their things so they had to sell, throw away, store at several places or rent a small space for a huge sum.
After talking to friends and family, he partnered with Otto Trapp and Gabriel Kivilohkare to create Vint, the Airbnb of storage. Launched in the beginning of 2016, Vint functions as a marketplace that connects people who need storage with those who want to rent out their unused space.
Instead of spending money on traditional storage complexes on the outskirts of cities, Matti thought it would be smarter for people to use existing spaces that would otherwise stay empty.
After the economic depression of the 1990s, there were many spaces left without purpose. Storage units, garages, cold cellars and even rooms in apartments and houses are not in use, and Vint wants to change that. The main problem is that instead of using — and monetizing — existing spaces, new places are built and the unused space is left there for no reason.
Sustainability is at the core of Vint and derives from the founders’ belief that every company should be concerned about sustainability and take their environmental and social responsibility. Sharing economy is usually associated with sustainability, because these companies encourage people to share their resources with others.
“People seek to consume more sustainable products in Finland in general, and we think it’s better to start a business that already has sustainability as a core value, because a company today makes no sense without it,” Tarmio said.
Vint tries to achieve sustainability through raising awareness about simple sustainable solutions to everyday problems through content on their company blog as well as through personally sharing their ideas and values with people around them.
“Sustainability is somehow built-in in our thinking and it comes quite automatically. That is why right now we don’t feel the need to have a physical sustainability plan and also because it’s still a small company. We try to for example do as much as possible digitally to reduce paper waste,” Trapp said.
The Vint founders know that it will take a long time to develop a marketplace for their company, but they are positive about the future and believe in their concept. They are currently revamping their website and plan to expand their business to Sweden, starting with the Stockholm area. The founders hope to develop the concept globally if there is a market and need for it.
“We hope that if the storage prices can be pushed down, people will realize it’s cheaper to store things rather than to throw away and buy new and therefore achieve sustainability,” Trapp said.
They believe that the sharing economy will continue to grow in Finland and around the world, as a solution to customer-to-customer and business-to-customer/business problems. Companies will own resources and rent them to people or other companies. Liiteri, a company located in Helsinki, rents out tools to people who are renovating their homes but do not want to own the tools themselves. According to them, many people don’t want to have physical possessions lying around anymore and prefer to rent rather than buy.
“Owning things will decrease, and who actually has these resources will change,” Tarmio said.
Their commitment to the storage idea turned into yet another startup, called Pilvivarasto, which means “cloud storage” in Finnish. It is described as “full service storage.” Customers only need to hire the guys to pick their things up and they will store them in a fully insured storage space. The customers can get their belongings back whenever they want to.
This service will reduce gas emissions since only one van will transport their things instead of each customer driving their car to a storage unit. They might even upgrade to an electrical car in the future to be even more sustainable. Pilvivarasto is currently active in the Helsinki region, whereas Vint is a nationwide service, because the website is the platform that connects users and the founders don’t need to be physically present to make the exchange.
“In the startup scene in Finland it’s inspiring to see that the thought of sustainability is present among young entrepreneurs, and I hope it will develop further sooner rather than later,” Trapp said.
Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV