A bit like a nosy neighbour, I’ve been keeping an eye on the Wellington Startup Weekend 2013 inspired web play (with an app to come) whose proposition is to ‘rent what someone else owns’.
In that same neighbourly way, I’ve also had the occasional kitchen conversation with co-founder Nicolai Thomson, who currently works for a business-oriented mobile phone company.
It has been interesting watching and hearing of the tribulations and triumphs of putting together a website and backend that firstly enables the owners of big ticket items such as motorhomes, boats and holiday homes to register their items, and then for a borrower to do so.
And though (inevitably) the commercial motorhome rental industry will see LendYour as competition, Thomson feels the owner-oriented site has a couple of advantages beyond being around 30 percent cheaper for the renter.
“Firstly, we have greater accessibility than the national companies,” he says. “There may be a motorhome in your home town, and you’re not restricted to taking onboard the amount of baggage you can take on a plane. Secondly, there’s a lot more character and individualisation of an owner’s motorhome, and that will appeal to a great number of people.”
Building the LendYour infrastructure has taken a group of global developers/partners a number of months (though Thomson is originally British and is tapping into his contacts).
LendYour has had its first five paying customers, and Thomson's intention is to go worldwide with the site, tailoring it for individual countries.
Unlike some competing temporary lend/borrow sites, LendYour is starting with expensive holiday-type ‘toys’, as this provides a better margin on which to build the business. Eventually, other, smaller, lower rental items will be included – essentially to flesh out LendYour’s total offer.
LendYour’s revenue model is based on owner members receiving 92 percent of the total charge for accommodation, and 70 percent for a motorhome.
One interesting feature of the site’s development has been both the learning exercise and partnering up for insuring items.
Thomson says LendYour has obtained premiums through CamperCare that are usually much better than those available through traditional insurance companies. This premium insures both the motorhome itself and its contents.
Getting this liability/protection aspect of the business sorted out has been one of the big headaches for the team, as up till now motorhome owners had no way of insuring their vehicle when lending it out to a third party.
The full site is due to go live in February, and will eventually include the ability for hirers to add map-based travel information and photos – creating LendYour specific content which in itself creates more reasons for site visits. Initially this will be through static information and photos, with dynamic maps to be added later on.
The business is also up for inclusion as one of the Lightning Lab 2014 teams to be announced on Friday.
As well as the $18,000 ‘living costs’ (and commensurate acquisition of equity by the Lightning Lab investors), Thomson believes the process would be extremely valuable for quickly learning how to grow what has already been developed.
Using the neighbour analogy, it has been extremely interesting observing the toddler moving from crawling to walking.
Whether the baby develops into a fully-fledged adult sprinting for all its worth – time will tell – and though I’ll no longer be a neighbour, I’ll watch with interest.