If there is one phrase that can summarise the spirit of RentSmart, it is “sharing is caring.” This affiliation is hardly surprising, considering that RentSmart’s business model revolves around the concept of sharing economy.
Since the last decade, sharing economy has been creeping to the forefront of collective consciousness. This trend can be credited to an increase in peer-to-peer online platforms for sharing of resources. Some big names of the local sharing economy immediately come at the top of mind, such as Airbnb, Grab, and GoGet.
As a new player, it is just a matter of time before RentSmart stands equally with these giants. In fact, they will do so by taking the term sharing economy quite literally!
The Founding Of RentSmart
A “eureka” moment experienced by its founder, Indran Gegathesa in 2018 led to the birth of RentSmart. An avid outdoor cyclist, Indran found himself having to spend a sizeable sum of cash to purchase a bike travel case for an oversea cycling excursion. Upon his return, he learned that one of his peers had the exact bike travel case sitting around in the house, essentially collecting dust.
This bitter experience sparked an idea for Indran to create a platform that connects people who have an excess inventory with those who need to use them. This platform will also present an opportunity for people to monetise their unused belongings without actively participating in the monetisation process.
Above all, RentSmart was conceived to address the pain point of buying a pricey item, yet only to be used once or twice throughout the item’s shelf life.
A Sharing Marketplace
RentSmart’s website is the platform where all of the renting action takes place. The platform facilitates transactions and communications between the owners of physical goods and their rental prospects.
At the moment, the categories of goods that are enjoying prime visibility are:
- Electrical and Electronics
- Home and Garden
- Kids and Babies
- Clothing and Accessories
Registration is a breeze with the options to sign up on the platform with a Facebook account or an email address. As an owner, you will be able to list your goods for rent on the platform and monetise them. However, renters have to submit a selfie with their government-issued ID before they can qualify to rent. According to Indran, this obligatory selfie will verify the users to protect the owners and RentSmart from scammers and theft.
True to the spirit of sharing economy, RentSmart incentivises owners with an 85% cut from the rental fee. RentSmart also charges the renters 15% service fee on the total rental amount. Currently, the platform imposes zero registration fees to drive the growth of the platform’s community.
Challenges Of The Rental Marketplace
“When we launched this online marketplace for the rental of physical goods, the two biggest obstacles for us are putting the brand name of RentSmart out there and pushing for a paradigm shift from the buying mindset to the renting mindset.”
Indeed, this sentiment of “buy-first habit” cloaks itself as an uphill battle for RentSmart to gain traction among modern consumers. According to Indran, purchasing instinct is heavily ingrained in the mindset of consumers.
Renting a flashy saree or baju kurung for the festive seasons is hardly a natural choice that many would make. Additionally, for an indoor-dwelling person who’s going for a one-off hiking trip, the probability of her walking out of a retail store with a new pair of hiking boots is much higher than borrowing the same pair of boots from an acquaintance or an online platform.
Towards Better Reach And Brand Awareness
“RentSmart will continue to play the role of facilitator between owners and renters. We want to be the “Lazada” of renting marketplace. As such, we aim to reach a stage where we’re seen as the aggregator of items for rent. As in any other peer-to-peer platforms, one of the main issues that we have to weather through is trust. You wouldn’t simply lend your hard-earned RM3,000-DSLR camera to any stranger, would you?
However, key countermeasures are in place to encourage trust and transactions between mutual parties. Chief of them is insurance coverage for rented items through RentSmart. Secondly, we validate each potential renter with their selfie and ID. Finally, owners and renters can appraise each other with our rating system, just like you would on eBay.”Indran gegathesa
While Indran is taking it easy on social media and blogs for RentSmart’s exposure, the behind-the-scenes are moving in fifth gear. Recruitment of independent rental businesses and savvy individuals who want to enjoy a passive income by renting out their belongings is an evergreen exercise. The end result of this recruitment exercise will be a greater variety of items on the platform and increased user base.
“We’re also looking for expansion of our brand name in neighbouring countries around South East Asia. Most importantly, this expansion will happen once we have traction in the Malaysian market. The validation of demand for rental of goods needs to be solid as well. Our progress so far indicates that we’re moving forward in the right direction,” concludes Indran.
For more info on RentSmart, visit their website at www.rentsmartasia.com.