Henry Tenby says he’s building the next Airbnb.
The Vancouver resident created PeerRenters, an iPhone and iPad app that allows people to rent out things they own to others in the same area.
“There’s Lyft and many other peer-to-peer sharing, renting services, but they tend to follow a niche—be it taxi cabs or rides or accommodations,” Tenby, the founder of PeerRenters, told the Georgia Straight by phone from his Dunbar home office. “So my idea was everybody has personal stuff. It could be a flatbed scanner, electronics, sporting goods—stuff that’s sitting around, that’s dormant. It’s expensive to buy, and you don’t use it every day. These items could lend themselves to peer renting.”
According to Tenby, the process of using PeerRenters can be summarized as “snap it, list it, rent it”.
Owners upload a photo of their item, pick a category, and name their rate. Renters find items by looking at a map or conducting a search.
“The person who wants an item would ask a question to the person who has the item that’s for rent,” Tenby said. “If they’re all good, they would then basically make the 10-percent deposit for the transaction through the app, and the app then puts the renter and the property owner together to meet up to conclude their transaction.”
Tenby advises owners and renters to meet in public places, such as shopping malls, to transfer items.
It’s also possible for people sell items as well as rent out themselves through the app, though not sexually.
“Basically, if someone wants to provide babysitting services or lawn, home, yard, carpentry—yes—you could put your service up there for a daily, half-daily, weekly rate,” Tenby said.
The PeerRenters website further describes how payment works: “Sellers pay us a 10% fee for all successful rental and sales transactions processed via the app: The renter/buyer pays a 10% booking deposit ($2 minimum) when they commit to a transaction, which we keep as our fee. The buyer/renter then settles the 90% balance (plus any applicable taxes) with the property owner.”
So far, Tenby’s had a tough time getting the word out about his app, which was released in March.
“It’s a new concept,” Tenby said. “I’m a one-person entrepreneur trying to start from nothing. So it’s very difficult and very challenging.”
PeerRenters is available as a free download in Apple’s App Store. An Android version is planned.