Gearlope brings together local outdoor enthusiasts
It all started simply enough: Bill Mastin merely wanted to spend a relaxing day with his daughters, kayaking on the Jordanelle Reservoir. A year and a half later, a company has sprouted from that modest wish.
Despite being an outdoor enthusiast, Mastin didn’t own kayaks. And after buying some inflatable ones, he realized he had nowhere to store them. He later returned them, wishing there had been an easy and cheap option to rent them.
"After that," he said, "I started thinking that there’s all these people right around me (who might have kayaks)."
Like that, the idea for his new company, Gearlope, was born. Gearlope, which officially launched gearlope.com about a month ago, allows Park City area users to rent out their outdoor equipment to other locals. Mastin compares it to Craigslist classifieds, but with a few important distinctions. First, items can only be rented, not sold. Second, the website is designed to create a sense of community among users.
"Really, the idea is to drive a connection between individuals that have some passion for a sport or are exploring a new sport," he said.
Mastin said the website is user friendly and simple, by design. The goal was to make it as easy as possible for someone wanting to rent equipment to connect with someone offering it. Users can search a map for equipment closest to them, and with one click start a conversation with the owner. The renter and the owner can then hash out the details before a final agreement is reached and funds are transferred over the site.
"We try to keep it simplistic — a renter and an owner, and connect them up," Mastin said. "The transaction and the relationship is really between those two people."
People renting out the equipment determine the price, with Gearlope taking 10 percent of the rental sum. Money from rentals can be sent by check or deposited into users’ bank accounts, or instead of cashing out the money, users can put them toward their own rentals.
"The idea there is ‘I want to rent out my snowboards in the winter, so I can rent kayaks in the summer,’" Mastin said.
Each transaction also requires a deposit that is only charged if a renter damages the equipment. Gearlope will cover damages beyond the deposit.
For Mastin, a former software developer who says he’s more attached to Gearlope than any project he’s ever worked on, the most intriguing part of the company is the prospect of connections and friendships being formed on the site. The vision is that the site creates its own unique community.
He shared one example. When he recently rented a canoe from a man on the site, the man offered first-hand insight, telling him all the best places to go on the Jordanelle. Mastin envisions similar scenarios playing out with most of the transactions.
"I don’t think you get that experience with going to pick up a rental from a rental shop," he said. "I think you can get a completely different experience with something like this."
Though Gearlope has only been online for around a month, members have already found ways to use it that Mastin didn’t expect. For instance, one user is renting out a tennis ball machine, while others are offering GoPro cameras. Currently about $10,000 worth of gear is available to rent on the site, and all outdoor-related items are welcome.
"There’s no way we could think about all the different activities people want," Mastin said.
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