LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Fans of outdoor activities such as camping, kayaking and biking this summer will find it easier than ever to get ahold of needed equipment through Quiptu, the “Airbnb” for outdoor rental equipment.
Indianapolis native John Laughlin co-founded Quiptu with Josh Roche, his brother-in-law, just earlier this month. The idea for an outdoor equipment rental company came when Roche had trouble finding a gravel bike needed for a 350-mile, bike-packing trip last year.
More:Bloomington startup Quiptu makes outdoor adventures accessible by renting equipment
“And so he spent an entire night trying to see if there was an REI (store) or bike shop where he could rent a gravel bike,” Laughlin told the Journal & Courier. “And there wasn’t one near where he was gonna be biking. So luckily his friend who invited him had an extra gravel bike in his garage, and Josh had to essentially take the bike apart, down to 51 pieces and ship it to Montana , put it together in his Uber driver’s backyard.
“And the box of parts arrived late, and so he missed the grand departure so he had to catch-up with everybody after the fact.”
Sensing that there must be an easier way to get ahold of equipment without buying, Quiptu was born.
Quiptu works by customers visiting its website, www.quiptu.com, choosing the activity the equipment is needed for, the pick-up and drop-off dates and the location of the renter. This will bring up the equipment available for rent according to the renter’s needs.
“So as a renter, or someone who might want to rent a kayak or bike,” Laughlin said, “you can search by location in our markets and pull up on the map and see the price of each listing…We modeled the experience after Airbnb and a couple other companies.And so our goal was to create a kind of a similar experience for both owners and renters.”
The equipment available, range of time it is available and pricing of equipment is up to the owners’ discretions, according to Laughlin. Guidelines and recommendations of pricing for owners are provided by Quiptu.
“You can create an account as an owner or a renter all on our website,” Laughlin said.
Local partnerships in the Greater Lafayette area will make equipment that much more available to Hoosiers.
“We’re partnering with the Purdue Outing Club and the Purdue Cycling Club,” Laughlin said. “As well as exploring partnerships with Virtuous Cycles…and another bike shop in West Lafayette.”
Quiptu is currently available across Indiana and Colorado. Future plans for Quiptu includes expanding the available available geographic region of service as well as the available gear, such as branching off to sports such as golf, tennis and eventually, winter gear.
“Our goal is to launch and grow geographically into new markets,” Laughlin said. “So, like I said, we’re in Indiana and Colorado, but we would like to expand into other states as well. We would also like to grow into other potential activity categories…So think potentially fishing gear, maybe golf clubs as well…
“We think that there’s a lot of outdoor adventure gear that people would benefit from renting as opposed to owning. And then there’s a lot of people who just have that gear sitting in their garage or basement. And so, there’s not a lot of limit as far as where Quiptu can grow into.”
Margaret Christopherson is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @MargaretJC2.