Have you ever wanted to try an outdoor activity but couldn’t because you weren’t equipped? Purchasing and renting outdoor gear isn’t cheap and remains one of the tallest barriers to entry for adventure activities. Conversely, your garage may be overflowing with items that are seldom used anymore and you could use some residual income. What if an online service could match these two people to rent equipment at an affordable rate? That’s the concept of Share Shed, a Vancouver upstart founded by young entrepreneur Daniel Dubois.
We chatted with Daniel about how the sharing economy is on the rise with outdoor equipment and how Share Shed is giving everyday people one less excuse to get outside.
Share Shed(ing) is caring
Vince Shuley: The sharing economy has been exploding the last few years with services like Uber and Airbnb. What made you want to take that concept to outdoor gear?
Daniel Dubois: It all began when I was backpacking a few years ago in Australia and I lived with a family who had a garage full of surf boards, bikes, instruments and all types of gear that I was allowed to use. When I returned to Vancouver for school I saw the TED talk “The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” by Rachel Botsman which was highlighting the benefits of shared economy. I felt this created a sense of freedom that I could travel the world and not have to own anything, but have access to everything I wanted. I wanted to create that world not just for other backpackers, but here in our own backyard.
VS: Outdoor lifestyle towns like Whistler have networks of friends that lend equipment between one another. Does Share Shed refine that concept to greater population like that found in Vancouver?
DD: It’s incredible that Whistler has that groundswell community where you can call up your friends and borrow something. That’s the core of sharing economy, making use of under-utilized assets and helping reduce waste and letting gear end up in the landfill. We have a garbage patch two times the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean right now. We have so much waste in our society but so much opportunity, especially through the technology of communication, to reduce that waste altogether.
VS: What in your view will make Share Shed a success?
DD: As much as Share Shed is a business that we’ve taken investment for now, I still view success where people don’t even need to use Share Shed because they have the connections and relationships offline. When companies are attempting to solve a real world problem, that success should look like your company is no longer relevant. At the moment we take a 15 per cent transaction fee which allows us to insure the item being rented. We expect renters to step and pay for damaged or lost goods, but the insurance is there for peace of mind.
VS: You began this venture in Vancouver, was there a pent up demand in the city for an affordable alternative to renting or buying gear?
DD: In Whistler most people are enthusiasts. They have the access with the mountain right there and most people have the gear and a network of people to go with. With Vancouver there’s so many people that want to get outside but there’s barriers to making it happen.
There’s the lack of gear. That’s where Share Shed can help.
There’s the lack of network. Outdoor time is a very social thing.
The third big one that people don’t often realize is the lack of skill. Even if you have gear and a network of people you may not have the skills set to get started. That’s where Mountain Skills Academy comes in.
VS: Where do you want to see Share Shed in the future?
DD: The vision behind Share Shed is creating a world of unlimited access to adventure. I see this as being a global community. I want to be able to go to Hawaii and connect with someone to rent all the camping and surfing gear I need, without having to take it on the plane with me. The next step before we expand is nailing down our product market fit and start up costs. I want to make sure it’s working incredibly well before we scale, so the most valuable thing we can do is work with our users and ambassadors, who are also passionate about creating access to outdoor adventure.
Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures is partnering with Share Shed to provide guidance and education in the mountains to Share Shed members.