RentSetGo

Month: July 2015

RentSetGo in conversation with E-cell, IIT-Bombay

Rent what an MRP didn’t let you buy!

The ridiculously expensive beach hat for a beach outing, the branded cricket helmet for the match with office colleagues, the exorbitantly priced mini telescope for a star-gazing outing, the DSLR Camera for your trip to the National Park – They rarely make it to the ‘worth buying’ stage.

It’s an obvious tendency, not to ‘purchase’ the things you know that won’t be worth the price you’ll have to pay. Something similar happened with Shruti and Sunith who wanted to go for an ‘outdoor trip’ – a biking trip to Kerala. They’d shortlisted some ​over 30​ bikes based on their own research & suggestions from friends. However, each bike ​, that could handle such a trip,​ was costing around ​Rs.50,000 to them – and they needed 2 of them – which meant an investment of Rs. 1 Lakh, for a month long tour only on the bikes! They bargained, visited multiple stores – and one of them offered them the bikes on rent for Rs.5000 a month!

Sunith is a Tech Wiz, founder at iRageCapital & QuantInsti. Shruti has been involved in mentoring entrepreneurs, leading investment deals & judging several start-up competitions ​ with her stint at Mumbai Angels​. The Idea struck. And RentSetGo was founded!

“RoI on renting is very high. Nothing goes wrong with sturdy goods. Like Adventure Camping equipment – You do not damage it by using it. Cameras as well – they have a very long life. We want to use up the rarely used idle inventory”, says Shruti. They ​started out as a “garage startup” and now have graduated to the next level.

So how exactly does RentSetGo function?

“We’re here to resolve the hassles around lending​ and borrowing​. We have a comprehensive curating process. We ​are building a trusted community on our platform – it’s a basic necessity without which people would neither rent nor borrow. The App is available on an invite-only basis for now. We assign a credit score to each user. That way, you can approach your targets smartly”, adds Sunith

​Logistics plays a crucial role in this startup.​  They already have ​10​00  people on waitlist for the invite code. The team is currently small, and the demands and expectations are huge. There’s a void that can seemingly be filled by these guys. So RentSetGo is now on a hiring spree!

The concept is amazing – the​ cycling club, the​ Photography Club & The Adventure Club of IIT Bombay have already tied up with RentSetGo for renting DSLR Cameras, Lenses, Bicycles, adventure gear ​etc. They were Eureka! semi finalists, and according to Shruti, “Networking event was very interesting as we received valuable feedback from peers and mentors. It was overall a good experience.”

Why share just knowledge and gyaan, when you can share other cool stuff as well?

Original Post : http://ecell.in/blog/rent-what-an-mrp-didnt-let-you-buy/

In the God’s own Country

Memories from the biking trip across Kerala by Sunith and Shruti.

Gears Used:

Bike: Scott Aspect 740*

Camera: Canon 600D with 18-55mm lens*

Additional gear: Nike+ GPS watch*

 

[robo-gallery id=”44″]

 

*You can check out these gears and many more cool products through your android phone! Get the app here, start browsing and experience joy!

The currency of trust and how companies like eBay and Airbnb mint it?

Sharing economy or collaborative consumption opened doors to many entrepreneurs to fully utilize their underutilized assets, skills, space or time. It has created digital marketplaces for offline services through Uber, AirBnb, ebay etc to exchange value at an unprecedented scale.

Although technology plays a crucial role in this economy, the very foundation of it lies in something more human-Trust. This secret ingredient empowers users to identify and interact with each other safely. Since it’s such a crucial part of what we do at RentSetGo, I would like to share my two cents on it.

Before the Internet, the traditional way of building trust in retail transactions relied on 8 factors, identified in a paper by P. Resnick and R.Zeckhauser[1] (2001) titled: “Trust Among Strangers in Internet Transactions: Empirical Analysis of eBay’s Reputation System”. Quoting from the paper, the attributes of building trust traditionally are:

(1) Most retail transactions are conducted locally, which gives individuals the opportunity to inspect them, as say with fruit in a rural market. If quality is discernible, no trust is needed.

(2) Retail operations tend to be large relative to their local market, be they vegetable sellers or the local department store. Buyers have frequent interaction with the same seller, and learn whom they can trust.

(3) Even when one’s personal interactions are limited, given that a retailer’s sales are concentrated in a locale makes it easy to develop reputations so customers learn about retailers from their peers.

(4) Retailer reputations are borrowed from other contexts. For example, retailers are likely to be pillars of the church and community, and would be highly reluctant to sacrifice the status that comes from such reputations.

(5) Reputations are built over many years; witness the reputations of Sotheby’s and Christies, the leading auction houses, which are hundreds of years old.

(6) Reputations are borrowed from others. Thus celebrities will attest to the quality of products.

(7) New goods benefit from established brand names, and policing of quality by those who own them. The product, not the retailer, wins the reputation.

(8) Significant expenditures – e.g., building a fancy store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue– indicates that one will be reliable, lest this expenditure be wasted, a form of signaling.

However, with the advent of Internet, things changed drastically. Buyers-sellers or hosts-travellers or lenders-borrowers in a sharing economy don’t normally know each other from Adam or in most cases, never even meet. Products sold, at times, don’t even have brand names to back them while customers rarely repeat and do not run into each other. So how do online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon or sharing economy poster boys like Airbnb and Uber really work and build trust within their communities?

Lets take a quick look into how 2 top players in their respective fields have managed to crack this problem.

eBay:

One of the earliest and best known Internet reputation systems is run by eBay, which gathers comments from buyers and sellers about each other after each transaction.

  • The feedback system allowed sellers to build their reputation from satisfied buyers and spread the word to a large population of potential customers through Internet at almost negligible cost.
  • Empirical evidence suggests that, more than half the transactions received buyer feedback, most of which was positive, fostering positivity and virality into the community.
  • Most importantly, as the participants believed this system was working, it deterred sellers from behaving badly, as it could result in a negative feedback and would be damaging to their reputation, hence future sales.

Airbnb:

In addition to the perks of the Internet that eBay enjoyed, Airbnb benefitted from the rise of social networks, which added another layer of identity to its members, fostering trust in the community.

As Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky puts it, “Trust, mediated by technology, is making a comeback. It’s what’s motivating millions of people in tens of thousands of cities around the world to book lodging with semi-screened strangers through this service.” Recent updates to the Airbnb review and rating systems have been implemented to extract more honest and accurate reviews from both the travellers and the host, that in the end benefit the Airbnb community at large.

  • To enable both the host and the travelers to leave honest reviews (praise and criticism) Airbnb now reveals their reviews simultaneously to each other after the trip has been completed. That way neither is affected by the other’s bias
  • As 90% of their reviews come within 2 weeks of travel they have shortened the review submission period to 14days, so that all the feedback is based on recent impression

Like these companies, others such as Amazon, Uber, TaskRabbit, Etsy, Threadflip etc have built impressive reputation models to support their communities and foster a trustworthy environment. Similarly, RentSetGo tracks user behavior through multiple data points and assigns ranks to its members using a proprietary algorithm in the backend. This helps in weeding out poorly rated members from the system and rewards good behavior by assigning higher search ranking on the platform.

In many ways, these reputation models form the core of any business based on sharing economy. These models have evolved considerably over the last decade and continue to do so with help of network effects, mobile and Internet penetration leading to the growing acceptance of such peer-to-peer businesses, and creating a cyclical, snowball effect. Reputation models leveraged by technology are the essence of the sharing economy and the future of this industry depends on how well we are able to extract the value of this currency of trust for the community.

[1] http://presnick.people.si.umich.edu/papers/ebayNBER/RZNBERBodegaBay.pdf

What connects the dots between Uber, AirBnB, Wikipedia and a Mumbai based startup?

It’s a concept called the Sharing economy. No, it’s not a new concept, in fact far from it. It’s one of the oldest concepts known even to the caveman. So to explain it simply, it’s an economy built on sharing— of underutilized assets and matching the needs of a user with that of an asset owner (peer to peer).

The term “collaborative consumption” was first coined by Marcus Felson and Joe L.Spaeth in their paper “Community Structure and Collaborative Consumption: A routine activity approach” published in 1978 in the American Behavioral Scientist. In 1995, 2 companies that disrupted the way commerce was conducted by developing a new economic model, made possible by the advent of Internet were EBay and Craigslist that allowed peer-to-peer exchange of goods.

Routine examples of sharing economy we all are familiar with are- libraries and public transport. I could go on about the evolution of the sharing economy but rather direct you to the Wikipedia link and not reinvent the wheel.

So, what’s all the hype about?

Even though sharing, renting, exchanging of stuff has existed in some form and shape since a very long time, a fundamental shift is being experienced today in the way sharing economy works and spreads. Rise of social networking and mobile penetration are the sparks lighting this explosion. Internet offers a stable long-term platform for sharing models. Trust and reputation form the foundation of this economy and play an instrumental role in its growth.

What’s sharing economy, in today’s terminology?

Basically, sharing economy is a socio-economic model based on trading, renting, sharing, exchanging- products, services, spaces, skills that enable access over ownership. One of the leading authorities on this subject, Rachel Botsman defines collaborative economy as an economy built on distributed networks of connected individuals and communities versus centralized institutions, transforming how we produce, consume, finance and learn.

The sharing economy can be broadly broken down into

–       Product Service Systems- where users pay for usage and access over ownership

–        Redistribution Markets- which is primarily bartering, sharing, trading, swapping goods

–       Collaborative Lifestyles- bartering, sharing, trading and swapping intangibles.

In simpler terms, it is the preference of “access over ownership”. Many consumers today are prioritizing performance and experience over possession. Information technology and peer communities power this model.

As evident from the above explanation, sharing economy is not restricted to a particular category of products/services. Below I would like to share some examples elaborating this point:

Market sectors Examples of companies
Goods
Preowned Goods craiglist,ebay,threadflip,yerdle
Loaner products shop it to me, renttherunway, RentSetGo
custom products Etsy, quirky
Services
Professional Elance,Freelancer,
personal Taskrabbit,Angieslist,Instacart
Transportation
Transportation services uber,lyft,sidecar
loaner vehicles zipcar,car2go
Space
office place Liquidspace,sharedesk
places to stay Homeaway,onefinestay,homeexchange,Airbnb
Money
Money Lending greennote,kiva,lendingclub
Crowdfunding Circleup, kickstarrter,indiegogo
Media
Online content youtube, slideshare,Flickr, soundcloud
Information wikipedia

 

As you can see, this is a huge opportunity. To put in numerical terms, product rental marketplace valued at $85Bn, vacation rental space valued at  $80Bn, ridesharing valued at $117Bn (Source: Entrepreneur Magazine)

The sharing economy is producing some of the most explosive startup growth in the history of the technology industry. However, as recently witnessed, the growth of companies in this space is not without its own set of challenges. Regulatory issues of Uber have been widely publicized across the globe. Airbnb as well faced certain regulatory backlash in US and Europe recently. Having said that, these companies are now actively working with regulators to address the challenges that are brought on by these disruptive models and coming up solutions that in some cases have even brought modifications to the underlying law.

What’s next?

The next wave of opportunities in businesses, is predicted to be companies that will support development of the sharing economy. For eg: Guesty manages a users’ Airbnb listing starting with screening potential hosts, to answering queries to coordinating with cleaning staff pre and post guest arrival etc. Another trend being predicted is that of expansion. For instance, Uber venturing into delivery services. Finally, there are many traditional industries where peer-to-peer sharing can really disrupt the way business is conducted and many startups have started popping up catering to this need.

So come and join the revolution!

…And the adventure begins!

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God’s own country!

A biking trip in the God’s own country- that’s how it all began. Shruti and Sunith planned to take a biking trip on the roads of Kerala. This crazy exploration freed the adventure bird in them and directly flew to solve the worst problems faced by travel enthusiasts- costly gears that too just for once in a lifetime experience. This was their eureka moment and RentSetGo was born! In this fast world, travel gear are as costly as the precious experiences. How about a simple mobile market place that allows you to rent or lend your awesome travel gears to share and spread the joy? That is what RentSetGo is here for, just take care of enjoying the trip and we add the gears to it to make it memorable! Take a biking trip or just a weekend getaway far from the hassle of the city to get closer to the nature, rent a bike, set a camp on the outskirts  and capture these amazing moments!

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Sunith and Shruti during their biking trip on their rented Scott Aspect 740

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