Gearo founder Justine Barone said her startup was ‘born out of the idea to make outdoor rental gear more accessible and sustainable.’ The online outdoor gear-rental marketplace soft-launched this week.
There are many gear rental shops in the world. Gearo aims to connect them all online. The brand new platform will start connecting local rental shops with outdoor enthusiasts looking to try gear before they buy.
Barone said while there are a few platforms such as Checkfront and Booqable that help mom-and-pop outdoor gear rental shops with backend booking operations, there’s no current equivalent to Gearo.
The digital marketplace lets consumers browse available rentals by location and activity, with real-time renting capabilities via vendor partnerships.
Gearo: How It Works
It works something like this: Vendors sign up for gear rental, then you can find a product they have, say a tent, in the camp section of Gearo, in a location convenient to you. Click “book now” and pay for your rental securely online.
During the transaction, the rental shop or vendor receives an alert about your booking and pickup date. Pick up the rental gear on the date you selected, and you’re ready to go – just be sure to return it when you specified.
“If the consumer goes over the time they booked, the transaction is extended through a new in-store order by the vendor,” Barone said.
More Outdoor Gear Inventory Is On Its Way
The booking platform has plenty of categories: bike, climb, fish, hike, run, paddle, ski, yoga, etc. But it’s new, so there aren’t many products to choose from yet.
There are a few affiliate shops in Colorado, where Gearo is based, as well as one in Brooklyn and one in Tampa Bay, Fla.
“But it’s not hard to scale,” Barone said. “It is very easy to expand because most shops are interested in using Gearo for the marketing aspect.” She said rental vendors she’s talked to so far want Gearo because there’s nothing like it out there.
“We are taking a focus on Colorado and will also focus on West Coast, although we plan to scale at a rapid pace,” Barone continued. “And, technically, we can scale with any location because the vendors manage their own stores.”
A mapping feature will expand as new shops in new areas come online.
Online Marketplace Solves Problems for Gear Renters and Rentees
The online marketplace solves two problems – one for consumers and one for vendors. Right now, if you need to rent gear, you might Google “outdoor gear rental.” A bunch of different rental contenders will show up.
Then you have to call and compare prices and availability. That’s inefficient, and it might lead you to rush out and buy a kayak that you only wanted to try for a weekend. Gearo lets you compare prices quickly online and then walk to a rental shop in your neighborhood.
For small outdoor gear-rental vendors, many of which are operating on tight budgets, marketing is an afterthought, and so is an online booking system. Gearo gives them an entire inventory system for showcasing and booking gear rentals online. “Some stores are still using paper and pen,” Barone said.
Give Gearo some time to scale up. The technology, which started as a peer-to-peer gear-sharing model, has only recently partnered with local shops to populate its database. The real opportunity quickly presented itself during the startup process.
“We realized this was a completely untapped market,” Barone said. So if you’re in the market to rent a mountain bike, hang tight. An affordable test ride might be just around the corner.