Online shopping can be a pain. There are many things to worry about: quality of product, price, and sifting through the millions of options. echo solves this problem by providing a marketplace for people to find and provide items to rent.
I got to speak to founder and CEO of echo, Rich Martin:
How did you come up for idea for echo?
When planning my wedding in 2012, I found it very easy to search and purchase small items online (decorations etc), using one of the many online retailers such as eBay and Amazon. But when looking for larger items I wished to hire, there was no such site. If I type “local marquee hire” into google it responds with 2,550,000 results, not exactly what I’m looking for.
I had the same thought again when looking for tools to hire for a DIY project, and when booking a holiday and looking for jet skis to hire.
What if there was an Amazon / eBay site but for rentals…. or more precisely and AirBNB style site for everything other than holiday apartment rentals as I think AirBNB has that covered. I couldn’t find a site like this so began researching my own.
I quickly realised that having a worldwide “Rental Community” where people can buy less and waste less, by sharing more will have a hugely positive impact on today’s consumer society and reduce the demand on the worlds resources.
For services like this, finding people to use the platform is usually a large difficulty. Have you experienced this problem? And how do you drive people to the site?
Yes, incredibly difficult. I speak to rental companies about echo, explain how it works. Free listing, no transaction = no fee etc, the feedback I get is great, but few sign up. I think it is a prime example of the chicken and the egg. I need content / items to get more users, but I will struggle to get users with no items available.
So for the meantime, advertise, spread the word, and try to keep my social media marketing engaging.
How do you insure items are actually returned safely to their owners?
echo is set up for both trade and private rentals.
Trade : Already have existing insurance and escrow plans in place, echo does not change the way they operate, it provides an additional outlet for their existing business.
Private : This allows the ability to start a rental business, just like an ebay selling business. Insurance can be taken out on items, escrows / deposits can be taken, even a photo of the borrowers driving license if required. But bottom line is with any rental business it is fair to assume an amount of wear and tear on rented items, any actual damage is taken out of the deposit. This can be clarified in any terms and conditions.
I would say, if you don’t want something damaged, don’t rent it out, or buy insurance for it.
Finally we at echo provide 2 payment methods. Stripe provides a straightforward card to bank account transaction. However PayPal is also available which comes with its own terms and conditions to help both the renter and the borrower. ( PayPal fees apply).
How did you go about hiring a team to help you with echo?
A Team, to be honest we are just a few friends with a varied skill set, with big dreams!
What do you hope echo will look like in five years?
In 5 years, the dream is AirBNB style app / website , but with worldwide rentals listed. From sports equipment to tool hire. From Super yachts to Wedding dresses.
And lastly, do you have any advice on how to start a successful startup?
My advice… “You never know if an idea will be successful when you take the first step. But if you believe it has potential, and you are willing to work hard for it, just do it. If the idea doesn’t take off, you will be left with a wealth of knowledge to prepare for the next idea”