My family is generally a DIY family. My dad built a 3-car garage to replace the dirt-floor one I grew up with. For his first home out of college, my older brother bought a fixer-upper, foreclosure house from a bank and spent the following years painting, installing hardwood floors, extra windows, and replaced everything in the bathrooms and kitchens. My younger brother, sister, and nearby relatives all took similar paths, which led to us owning many types of home repair and construction equipment, and many duplicates across the family.
My co-founder, Paul, owned and operated a DJ company in high school and college, but found less and less time for it as his general contracting company attracted more business. His DJ equipment was left unused for 95% of the year, and he wished he could rent them out to others who could make use of them. The rest of my family and extended family is in a similar position, having garages full of sheetrock, woodworking, tile cutting, electrical, and plumbing tools.
RentableGear was started in this context. One day I asked my brother about his plan for the day, and he explained to me how he drove 20 miles across the city the other day to pick up a tool he reserved and arrived to discover the rental business had double-booked the tool and it was now unavailable. He explained to me how most rental businesses are still using paper books to manage their inventory, and the only way to check specs and availability of a tool is to call each of several nearby rental businesses to ask them. He's asked several rental businesses if they have their catalog online, to which the answer is "we'd like to, but it's just too complicated and too expensive for us to do".
After discussion, Paul and I decided that this industry is ripe for improvement, and we were very capable of doing it. I am a software engineer who has built browser-based tools for large companies, and Paul is familiar with the rental industry and has owned and operated several small businesses.
The experience of renting tools can be greatly improved. I believe more people would rent before buying, or rent instead of buying, if they could easily see and compare nearby options.
Even greater, this model can easily be expanded to more than home repair tools. For example, Paul also competes in triathlons and tells me how using a high-quality road bicycle improves his times so much. Not every triathlete has a great road bicycle, but would they rent one for their next competition if it was easy? I think so. And I'm sure there is someone in his community who can lend him one.
We see a lot of problems which can be alleviated, but we can only do one thing at a time. We decided to start by helping rental businesses get their inventory online, which is almost finished, needing a bit more polish. After that's done, we want to enable businesses to manage reservations and communications online, followed by allowing any individual to create an account and advertise their gear for renting.
We really hope you're excited by our vision. You can see our current progress by visiting www.rentablegear.com.