Headshot of Nick Huber, smiling in a collared shirt and tie with an orange microphone to the left of the image

The FORT Podcast: Nick Huber

Today’s episode features Nick Huber, the founder of The Sweaty Startup – a podcast packed with the principles, strategies, and methods used to grow successful companies and Storage Squad which provides student storage, self storage, and moving services.

Today, Nick and Chris discuss the importance of the ‘un-sexy’ jobs that keep the country running, Nick’s additional startup Storage Squad that he founded during college, his unique capital structure when doing deals, how Nick incorporates technology into his business, the benefits they both have gotten from Twitter & more. Enjoy!

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(02:23) – Nick’s Journey
(03:09) – How did you come up with the idea for Storage Squad?
(06:11) – Is Storage Squad still running today?
(06:34) – Where do you see that business going?
(07:21) – How did you meet Dan? How did he become your business partner?
(08:06) – What was it like being a decathlete and training for the Olympics?
(09:31) – How do you describe your podcast The Sweaty Startup?
(12:22) – What are you thinking about in terms of ‘Sweaty’ businesses that can do really well in this unique COVID environment?
(14:30) – What’s it going to take to get this next generation of people excited about blue collar work?
(16:05) – Nick’s Twitter Rebuttals to the VC/Tech World
(16:58) – When did you buy your first self-storage deal?
(19:03) –  Why did you choose to develop a deal in this market?
(19:45) – What factors play into analyzing a market you are interested in?
(21:13) – When do you go boots on the ground while finding deals?
(22:04) – Why are you hyper-focused on tertiary markets instead of core markets?
(23:13) – What’s the difference between a Class A storage unit and what you are buying?
(23:52) – What makes you bullish about self-storage?
(26:00) – Nick Explains His ‘Weird’ Capital Structure
(29:33) – When you’re buying a deal, are you calling local banks in that market or do you have a go-to bank that will travel with you?
(30:11) – Are you planning to turn this into a franchise?
(31:05) – Nick’s Family Values and Living Frugally
(34:49) – One of the Most Interesting Deals Nick has Done
(38:47) – What do you actually have to do to evict someone from a storage unit?
(39:53) – Do you see the selling of left over stuff as a profit center or a pain in the ass?
(40:46) – The Gloversville Deal
(44:53) – The Technology Nick Uses to Remotely Manage Properties
(47:44) – What’s the average length of a lease in your portfolio?
(48:16) – What does an average unit lease for?
(49:19) – What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen left behind and the most expensive thing left behind in a unit?
(50:08) – Nick’s Crazy 10-Year Prediction for the Future
(52:37) – How do you incorporate digital marketing into your business?
(54:42) – How do you think about risk?
(57:21) – Where do you want your business to be in 10 years?
(58:46) – Do you have a morning routine?
(1:01:35) – The Pros and Cons of Twitter and Media
(1:05:53) – What’s the best advice you have ever received?
(1:07:27) – How can people contact you?


Episode Summary

Nick Huber’s background is a testament to his versatility and resilience. With a foundation in the corporate world, his transition to entrepreneurship was marked by a determination to fill a niche he identified: storage solutions tailored for students. Huber’s initial venture revolved around leveraging college networks, emphasizing the importance of connections in the foundational stages of a business.

The storage industry, as Huber elucidated, is more than just providing space. It’s about understanding the evolution of the business model, the location dynamics, and the paramount importance of customer service. The operational intricacies are vast, yet Huber emphasized that when executed with precision, the storage business offers potential profitability and scalability that few industries can match.

A significant portion of the discussion was centered around the financial dynamics of the storage industry. Huber shed light on the challenges posed by the traditional banking sector, emphasizing the importance of fostering relationships with regional banks. The dynamics of capital investment, return on investment, and strategies for effective funding were meticulously dissected, offering listeners a comprehensive understanding of the financial underpinnings of the storage business.

Real estate’s role in the storage business cannot be overstated. Huber’s insights into acquiring real estate for storage, the pivotal role of location, and strategies to maximize profitability were profound. Particularly intriguing was the concept of repurposing older, perhaps dilapidated, buildings for storage – an innovative approach that combines sustainability with profitability.

Market research and analysis form the backbone of any successful venture. Huber’s approach is marked by a deep understanding of local market conditions, competition, and demand dynamics. The conversation touched upon the significance of harnessing technology and data, underscoring the role of informed decisions in business success.

Yet, every journey has its share of hurdles. Huber candidly discussed the challenges he encountered, from regulatory bottlenecks to the complexities of the real estate market. His narrative was one of adaptability, resilience, and the constant pursuit of knowledge.

The integration of technology in the storage business is not just a trend; it’s a necessity. Huber highlighted how tech solutions enhance every facet of the business, from operational efficiency to customer service. The potential of technology to usher in a new era for the storage industry was a recurring theme, emphasizing its role in revolutionizing operations.

Broad trends shaping the real estate and storage sectors were explored, with discussions around evolving customer expectations and the increasing emphasis on sustainability. Huber’s vision for the future of the storage industry was marked by optimism, underscored by adaptability to changing market dynamics.

For those keen on embarking on an entrepreneurial journey, especially in the storage business, Huber’s advice was invaluable. The emphasis was on networking, building robust relationships, understanding the balance between risk and reward, and the pivotal role of mentorship.



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