Disrupting Innovation

Real Life Storage Wars: Makespace Beefs With Manhattan Mini Storage

Hey, you, get off of my cloud.
The offending ad. (Screengrab via Manhattan Mini Storage)

The offending ad. (Screengrab via Manhattan Mini Storage)

When a startup comes along and rattles the corporate powers that be, those big companies rarely go down without a fight.

In the case of successful disruptors like Uber and Airbnb, the startups are punished with investigations and regulations. But in the case of storage startup Makespace, the new company is the one taking legal action — and, of course, publishing an angsty 2,000-word blog post about the situation, dramatically entitled, “When Goliaths Roar.” 

It all started when, around May 1, subway advertising stalwart Manhattan Mini Storage started running ads with an ominous warning to potential customers: “Don’t trust the cloud.”

Makespace happens to be a high-tech Manhattan Mini Storage competitor (read: storage company with an app) with the motto, “Your closet in the cloud.” Just to drive the point home, MMS eschewed their usual blue ad format and went with green — Makespace’s signature color.

For their part, Manhattan Mini Storage has denied that the ads have anything to do with their nascent rival, saying Mr. Rosen and company are “flattering themselves” if they think they are the target of the ads. The company did not return a request for comment on the release of the letters in time for publication.

Having noticed this subway-wall-subtweet, Makespace Founder and CEO Sam Rosen wanted to get revenge — or at least get his point of view across. So yesterday, he published a string of legal letters from lawyers dating back to a month after the storage startup’s founding in September of last year. MMS even sent Makespace a cease-and-desist letter alleging that, among other things, Makespace falsely characterized its competitor’s services.

Mr. Rosen is so sure MMS’s ads are directed at his company that his blog post on the matter contains the supposed proof.

“The cease and desist letter, which came only 1 month after we launched, is a clear indicator that not only are they thinking about us, they’ve been thinking about us for a while,” Mr. Rosen told Betabeat. “Now that this ad campaign has launched, it’s almost a benefit to MakeSpace. I want people to know that the big guys are right to feel threatened.”

In Mr. Rosen’s incredibly long, incredibly startuppy blog post, he likens the saga to the story of David and Goliath. It’s a pretty solid metaphor, aside from the fact that we’re pretty sure the biblical David didn’t have $10.5 million of VC in the bank.

Public Storage, a nationwide self storage company, also seems critical of the cloud storage concept. A recent 60-second TV spot showed a confused old couple trying to float their belongings into the sky using a hot-air balloon. Betabeat could find no legal action pertaining to that commercial, though.

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