An Interview With Storage Together’s Luke Amargo, Winner of Smart City Hack’s ‘Best Solution’ Award 2016

Five months of hackathons, competitions and a worldwide product search led to last week’s Smart City Hack final – and what a final we had! In front of a packed audience, as well as all the passing Smart City Expo visitors, our ten finalists passionately pitched away their apps and solutions to our jury of industry professionals. No one pitched more passionately though than Storage Together’s Luke Amargo. Coming all the way from Phoenix, A.Z. Luke laid out the app’s potential and the team’s future goals with real panache, resulting in Storage Together being awarded the ‘Best Solution 2016’ prize. We grabbed him for a quick chat about the app’s dramatic beginnings and plans for 2017.

What’s your background?
English Literature from Grand Canyon University with minors in Design and Entrepreneurial Studies.

What caused your first interest in apps and developing?

I started focusing purely on writing, I loved creating worlds. However there was more things to create beyond fiction and it was great having people rally behind an idea. This got me into developing.

Where did the concept for the app come from?

I had a car accident on my way to my college, and my items got destroyed. I discovered if I burdened my stuff at a friend’s house or a pricey storage unit my stuff would’ve been fine. So I combined both ideas and had this idea of “share economy-fying” self-storage.  Eureka from a wreck.

The sharing economy has seen huge growth and exposure in the past few years, do you think apps will continue to lead the charge?  

Apps that simply allow accountability and flexibility we’ve not had in the past. Though desktops in theory could do the same, applications have geolocation and portability, so apps are a necessity. Our competitors don’t have an app, so I don’t consider them 100% members of the “share economy.”

How did you hear about Smart City Hack?

My company does an incredible number of pitches, and this was on the radar when I was doing research at Grand Canyon University.

What’s been your proudest moment so far?
Winning this! It has been an incredible honor. We got to bring the prize back to GCU, Phoenix and to my family. I have been praying for adventures, and this was by far, one of the favorite adventures (also my favorite time in Europe). I remember also, afterwards, taking a guitar and performing right by Plaça d’Espanya to celebrate.
 
Reaching your audience is one of the hardest challenges with any product, how do you plan to attract more users?

Organic is ideal. For instance, people who refer us personally to their peers is my favorite way of marketing. However, with the need of storage being prevalent in our target market of college students, all we have to do is argue our value proposition. Money stays with locals. You save money (40% below the industry). Also, you have more space for your life! We have some guerilla marketing and of course SEO/FB Ads on the way. But I treasure organic reach.

Where do you see the future of the app going? What are your expansion plans? 

We don’t have to build brick-and-mortar stores, we have room to really focus our funds. Scalability is huge for our vision of storage since the market has been growing even during financially tough times.

We want to have a stronger app so we can scale in any city without us having to jump in and ruin the flow of commerce, so we gotta tighten our backend. We are going to expand college to college (people who love the share economy), city to city and then the whole nation. We have a man in London who wants to launch a European beta test. We are focusing on quality, since the share economy is built on trust.