PROVO — Airbnb lets users rent out their home. Utah-based Neighbor lets users rent out their unused spaces for storage. Now, a new peer-to-peer rental startup is hoping to fill in the gaps and let users rent out, well, pretty much anything they can think of.
Provo-based Yoodlize has created a marketplace for individuals to rent pretty much any item from their local communities, from lawnmowers to video game consoles.
Through the app, people are able to find things they need to use, but don't want to own or buy, for one-time use, and the owners are able to make some money through the rental transaction.
"I think it solves two key issues — one, it allows people to earn extra cash. And then the second one is, it allows people to have unique experiences without having to own those items to have those experiences," Yoodlize CEO and founder Jason Fairbourne said.
The pilot program launched in the Provo and Orem areas in 2019 and is now looking to grow through crowdfunding. The company is seeking to raise $500,000 through its Wefunder campaign and has already reached $89,000 so far.
"We just wanted to see how users would organically use the app, interact with it, make transactions with each other and learn from that," Fairbourne said about the pilot. "I like to take a very kind of experimental kind of approach to starting a business like we want to see how people use it."
Since its pilot launch, the Yoodlize app was downloaded 7,800 times with 3,100 accounts made and 1,200 listings posted. A total of 800 rentals have been made on the app and users have rented anything from virtual reality sets to bounce houses to carpet cleaners.
Outdoor recreation equipment has been a popular item to rent on the platform as well and some have even rented motorcycles. During the pilot, the company saw some users make up to $2,000 monthly by renting out their belongings on the platforms.
"It's interesting from the side hustle perspective if you're looking for extra cash," Fairbourne said. "If you have items around your home, garage that you like or love and you use, most likely somebody else would probably like to rent that as well and you can make some money off of it."
Yoodlize did initially see a small dip from the COVID-19 pandemic but quickly bounced back and even grew throughout 2020. Fairbourne and his team even noticed users were able to utilize the platform for rentals relating to the pandemic. One man drove from Idaho to rent video equipment to livestream a funeral to friends and family. Others looking to discover new hobbies during the pandemic-related closures were able to rent some fun toys from people on the app.
Next month, an update for the Yoodlize app will be released to implement new features as the company expands and brings in new users across the entire Wasatch Front and Utah.
If the expansion in Utah is successful, Fairbourne said they are looking to test the waters in the greater Austin, Texas, area before hopefully expanding across the U.S.
"(We will) smooth out those potholes and remove as many barriers and friction points as possible, to give the user a better experience," Fairbourne said.