Bringing availability and accessibility to the fore along with giving both existing businesses and people a chance to rent idle gear to local users and tourists, Quipmo is a peer-to-peer rental marketplace that aims to improve the user experience when accessing surf, bike and snow gear.
As Quipmo’s founder Chris Evans explained to Bullpen when we sat down for a conversation he said it functions like this. “If someone is travelling they don’t have to use the hotel bike, they can rent a bike from someone and see the city on it. If they’ve got a day on the Gold Coast for a conference, why not jump on a surf board and enjoy a surf before it starts.”
It’s not just individuals who are adopting the platform, organisations as diverse as Bicycle Queensland, Disabled Wintersport Australia, Surfing New Zealand and the Association of Professional Bodyboarding (APB) World Tour have backed the potential of this rental marketplace.
In this interview we talked about Quipmo’s growth, the opportunities to guide experiences through equipment rental and their position in this segment of the sharing economy.
How would you describe the value proposition on both the supply and demand side? There is appeal to locals and tourists, people with spare equipment and people keen for experiences.
Chris Evans: “Even just on the supply side there’s two parts to this and with a potential dichotomy between them, for what the value proposition is for an existing hire business or a lessons business is different to what there is for an individual. For an existing hire or lessons business there is potentially a new revenue stream, it provides a more sophisticated level of user experience in a world which is demanding the ability to book products and services online. It also increases the utilisation of equipment and gear rentals they’re already making, improving the profitability of the businesses on a risk-free basis.
“From an individual supply perspective, it’s an opportunity to create a new revenue stream from equipment they already own. Much like whether it’s Uber, Airbnb or Mad Paws or whatever the marketplace might be it affords people to have a flexible opportunity to gain access to new earnings.
“On the demand side, all of those examples you raised make perfect sense and they’re very much our target market. There’s always going to be a demographic which is more familiar with booking products and services online with Forbes reporting that 97 per cent of people prefer to find their businesses online and further to this, that Airbnb has noted that 60 per cent of its customers in total are millennials.
“In terms of how consumer behaviour has changed, the expectations on the way people purchase and procure goods and services, it’s moved from cradle to grave, to people wanting to be able to acquire things when they want it for the period of the time they actually wish to use it.”
Considering both the supply and demand side how do you balance the needs on both sides?
CE: “Right at the very heart of that is building trust and engendering trust in the platform so that all users have the confidence that they’re going to have a positive user experience and that they’re appropriately protected through that user experience.
“A lot of that trust is built upon positive brand affiliations and strategic partnerships, building up a voice for our brand that reflects our customers and target market. Then seeking to show that they’re not first movers, that there’s already people successfully using the platform, other businesses or individuals can be seen to having a good experience and that trust is a proven commodity as opposed to something esoteric.”
Why is major partnerships and advocacy so central to Quipmo’s growth strategy?
CE: “Firstly its credibility which comes from working with those that are the best in the business and who truly understand their community for a particular product category, and particular geography.
“There’s two key reasons, we achieve credibility through brand affiliation. Secondly, it’s the insight. We learn from them in terms of that particular customer demographic and how we can communicate and promote to that demographic.”
What is the voice and attitude that you aim to project with Quipmo?
CE: “It’s critical to us, our mission is to help people enjoy adventure more often!
“If people participate in the things they love more often that can only be a good thing right?!? For us it’s enabling access and showing people that they can enjoy the things they love, their passions and hobbies, more frequently through short term access to great gear.”
Trust in this space is important for all. A bike may be easily stolen, a person may get injured surfing, how do you mitigate that?
CE: “This is absolutely critical to our service offering. We did enormous amounts of primary research before going live to meet the needs and requirements of our users to truly understand the market’s expectations around trust and protection.
“In Australia and New Zealand we have property insurance and third party liability insurance and that’s to protect gear users and gear owners. Over the top of that, we have a user ratings system for both gear owner and renter can review each other after having completed a transaction.”
You’ve had traction beyond the Australian and New Zealand markets, tell me about how you’ve scaled internationally?
CE: “We have listings in 18 countries. Our second largest country in terms of number of listings is Peru where we have a tremendous number of listings for kite-surfing and sandboarding for instance, it’s the largest sandboarding location in the world with amazing conditions.
“For me it was a case of going, ‘there’s not a language barrier, there’s interest across product categories, there’s appetite for this service globally – it’s just up to us to execute well’.”
What other potential growth markets or verticals do you have your eye on to scale the platform?
CE: “Once the model has proven out, and this is over the medium term, there are all sorts of tangential product categories that could be added successfully.
“If I was to pick a brand which I take the most personal insight out of in terms of how to build a very coherent brand voice across disparate sports – it would be Red Bull. They’ve created a brand and voice around action sports and adventure, they run anything from tree climbing competitions to platform diving but it makes sense under their brand. I think that’s where Quipmo draws inspiration from, our ambition is to bring on board new product categories when it makes sense and when we’ve reached a critical mass but it’s Red Bull who have set a really strong and successful precedent that we can take inspiration from.”
Describe the UQ HYPE Spin Lab experience and what it could do for Quipmo?
CE: “It’s been incredibly positive. We’re currently undertaking our seed round and having University of Queensland’s (UQ) iLab and HYPE on Quipmo’s CV is wonderfully positive as it opens us up to both potential domestic and international investment given their belief in what we’re doing and their belief in our ability to execute. Furthermore, as I’m also a UQ MBA alumni, it’s personally very rewarding for me to be continuing my relationship with both the university and iLab and to have them both supporting Quipmo.”
The area of the sharing economy that Quipmo competes in, how do you see it changing and evolving?
CE: “In our particular vertical it’s in its infancy. There’s a strong demarcation between the tourism, leisure and adventure sectors versus mobility but over the medium term I see a consolidation of those and a true nexus of broader product and service experience. Whether it’s someone hiring a bike to be a rider for Deliveroo or someone wanting to hire a bike because they want to cycle up and down the coast the mechanics of that transaction are the same.”
And finally let’s look at the next 12 months, what’s the biggest milestone you want to hit.
CE: “I’m incredibly excited about the next 12 months. We’re currently raising seed capital, and once closed, having capital behind us will enable a substantial change in our capabilities and capacity to grow – that means expanding our team and fundamentally increasing the pace that we on-board new suppliers.
“If our last two years is anything to go by, we’re only at the very beginning of our journey!”