In the new sharing economy, you don’t need to have a car, bike, school textbooks, a dedicated parking space, or even a tuxedo to wear to that upcoming fancy event—it’s all rentable. Thanks to the success of companies like Getaround, RelayRides, Airbnb, and Taskrabbit, is a wave of startups aiming to get in on the sharing trend. GoodShuffle is aiming to grab its own little slice of the market: home and garden items. Why own power tools when you can rent from your neighbor?
The idea for GoodShuffle first came to cofounder Andrew Garcia in 2007. After running an audio company in college that subsequently shut down, he was left with expensive sound equipment and nothing to do with it. He thought: "What kind of system would need to be in place to facilitate me renting out an item to a complete stranger?"
Erik Dreyer, a longtime friend of Garcia and GoodShuffle’s other co-founder, helped craft that system while a student at BDW, a University of Colorado at Boulder program focused broadly on digital creativity and leadership. During the second semester of the program—known as "the startup semester"—students spend 16 weeks going from concept to launch of a project with help from an entrepreneur (in this case, Robert Reich.) "The home and garden focus came from Robert Reich’s strong urging to niche, to own a category," explains Dreyer. We’re going to let our users help determine [further] what that category is."
The site will work much like the other sharing sites that are out there: if you own an item that you want to rent (say, a ladder), you post it and set the times that it’s available along with a price. Anyone looking for a ladder in your neighborhood will see it when they search on the site. Users can leave reviews for item owners and the items themselves, cultivating what Dreyer and Garcia hope will be a community of trust. GoodShuffle will take a cut from every rental.
The startup doesn’t offer insurance policies on rented items (though that might come in the future), so trust is extra-important. That’s why GoodShuffle’s private beta will be open to family and friends first, starting in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Future marketing efforts will be grassroots—think farmer’s markets and local hardware stores. Dreyer is confident that people will be game to try the service even without insurance. "Given the right social capital, people are willing to do anything online," he says.
Though Garcia came up with his idea long before today’s sharing economy took off, the startup will have competition when it launches—Getable offers rentals from established companies, and the upcoming Yerdle platform will allow people to give away and rent household items.
Garcia and Dreyer say that they welcome the competition. "There are a lot of people playing in this field, and on an idealistic level that’s fantastic," says Dreyer. "We’re all working towards the same goal."