Lend Me Your Gear
Number of Employees: 3
Now when your neighbor wants to borrow a lawnmower or your circular saw, you can point them to a website where they can rent the item for the day — and also list their own household goods and appliances to rent around the nation.
That’s the concept behind Lend Me Your Gear, an online company founded by Colorado Springs entrepreneur Glenn Carlson and his wife Laura Peterson. The two are bringing rental opportunities — from luggage to kitchen mixers — to one online location. Carlson spent a year learning how to create a user-friendly website and the company will have a mobile app available next month.
Lend Me Your Gear started as a luggage rental site, but grew organically when users listed other items, Carlson said. He created the website because the online rental market is too difficult and dispersed to navigate.
“The problem is, it just gets so fragmented that you have to go to all these different places if you’re interested in using something like that,” Carlson said. “I don’t ever want to say we want to be the Amazon of anything, but we want to be that consolidated marketplace where, if you need to borrow something temporarily or if there’s something you want to try before you buy, this is a good place to start.”
At lendmeyourgear.com, users sign up to be lenders or renters, but lenders must make their way through an identity verification system before leasing items on the website. Renters have to provide their contact and credit card information and make a deposit beforehand.
Lenders range from people wanting to rent their personal items for a price or businesses wanting people to try out their products.
Specialty Auto Tool Rental from Chicago and Fantasyland Costume Company from Portland are two businesses currently on the site.
The website has more than 2,000 listings and 200 users who rent or lend gear in 14 states, according to Carlson.
The most popular items on the website are lawn mowers, rototillers, pressure washers, tile saws and household items such as KitchenAid mixers, Carlson said.
“I think of lot of people were just wanting to try [a product] before they went out and bought one,” Carlson said. “For $10 you can just go a block over and grab one from your neighbor for the day, return it when you’re done and be on your way.”
Carlson believes that most of the site’s transactions will continue to be local pickup and delivery between people in the same area.
“When I started, it was bringing back a little sense of community where you could go ask a neighbor to borrow something,” he said. “People don’t really do that anymore, and I think everybody’s so afraid of the liability. Everybody kind of came back inside. When I was a kid, everybody was outside — you barbecued with your neighbors, played with neighbor kids … so I could see this as a way of connecting communities.”
According to Peterson, who also owns a massage therapy company in Colorado Springs, Lend Me Your Gear can act as a business partner for fledgling companies or people looking to make some extra cash.
“I think Lend me Your Gear is a great business partner for people that don’t have the knowledge and the web presence they might want,” Peterson said. “For other places that are doing rentals … that’s a really good partnership just because they already have the inventory, but they might not have the ecommerce functionality.”
Daily rental rates on the site are around 10 to 20 percent of the retail price, but can vary for some items. Lend Me Your Gear takes 10 percent commission on a transaction, while the other 90 percent goes to the lender.
If the company continues to grow, Carlson hopes to create jobs in the future. Right now he said he’s pursuing venture capital so his company can expand. He hopes to have 15 employees to start with, if his business can find a venture capital partner.
He credits the booming economy for his success so far.
“The economy is good and … right now it’s the time to put your head down and really work hard and take advantage of when things are good to prepare for when things are going bad, because they will,” Carlson said.
“You just have to push in all directions — don’t get caught up worrying about if this is the perfect strategy. … Just work hard, stay consistent [and] be persistent.”