Windsor resident and his company, Stow, make it to final round of UNC’s Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge | MyWindsorNow.com

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Windsor resident and his company, Stow, make it to final round of UNC’s Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge

Stow

A digital service with website and mobile application, Stow lets people rent out their own extra space for storage or long-term parking use.

Find out more at http://www.stow.io.

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Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge

The University of Northern Colorado’s eighth annual Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge allows aspiring entrepreneurs to obtain exposure and compete for $50,000 in prize money to help bring their business ideas to fruition.

For more information on the challenge, go online to http://mcb.unco.edu/e-challenge/.

About two years ago, Devin Eldridge, his wife and their three kids moved to Windsor. During that move, they needed some storage space but had a lot of difficulty finding it.

For months after the move, Eldridge felt mad about how hard it was to find available storage for only a few days and frustrated by the several hundred dollars it cost him. He admits his frugality and love for efficiency probably fueled those emotions a bit. But he kept thinking there had to be a better way to handle storage.

Those thoughts birthed Stow.

Eldridge left his job as a CPA at OtterBox about a year ago and founded Stow with his brother, Dillon.

“Essentially, if you have an outbuilding, garage or driveway parking spot near a popular area, you can rent that out, monetize it.”Devin Eldridge

The web- and app-based service lets people rent out their own extra space for storage or long-term parking. Stow is one of five businesses in the final round of the University of Northern Colorado's eighth annual Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge.

"Essentially, if you have an outbuilding, garage or driveway parking spot near a popular area, you can rent that out, monetize it," Eldridge said. "We help you find somebody to rent it to, and then we automate all the payments so you don't have to worry about collecting money."

This past fall, Stow launched a mobile application and tested it with a small group. About two months ago, they launched a website with about 30 listings for rental storage in cities across Colorado. Stow primarily has locations in Fort Collins, Windsor, Denver and Colorado Springs.

"I really like efficiency," Eldridge said, "and think Stow brings a lot of efficiency to people's lives and to the storage industry in general, using space that is right now going unutilized or underutilized. Watching everyday people get the benefit of extra income."

The company already has a couple of success stories. In one instance, he said, a resident was able to rent storage to a neighbor through a Stow transaction.

"That is literally the ideal situation where you don't have to drive anywhere," he said. "You can just walk across the yard and have a storage facility next door to you."

Eldridge wants to expand the company's offerings — he was in Greeley on Wednesday trying to expand Stow into the city — and winning UNC's entrepreneurial challenge could help a lot.

The winner of the competition gets $25,000 in prize money. Second place earns $15,000, and third place earns $10,000.

Stow has four employees: the Eldridge brothers and two part-time contractors. The brothers work only for equity in the company at this point, and for Devin Eldridge that means he and his family are living off their savings, he said.

"Building a marketplace requires a long ramp-up period to get the technology and market going," Devin said.

If Stow can take first place at the challenge's final round in April, that could mean a big boost for the company and its ability to expand, he said.

"Most people are really excited about (Stow)," Devin said. "They're like, 'This has been much needed for a while.' This is much easier to find storage and more convenient, more affordable, more flexible. And on the host side, they're really excited at the chance to have an extra source of income that they don't have to do much extra work for."