We are publishing an interview of Mr. Satyyam Srivastava, Co-Founder & COO, Rentezee. This startup was launched on April 2017 in Gurgaon. It has 3 Co-Founders.
The CEO and CTO have previously worked together for two years – at FITPASS – as Product Manager and Technology Lead respectively. We built FITPASS from the ground up – gaining 1000X growth in customer base in 18 months, leading to a $1M funding round. The COO, Satyyam, has had a successful exit from Pluss App, when it was acquired by Netmeds. He managed end-to-end Operations, Sales, and Client Engagement across three cities.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: We are actively looking to raise our first round of investment to scale up. We have talked to multiple VCs and HNIs and are in advanced round of talks with three investors regarding the same.
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: The core problem we are solving is to bridge the gap between consumer demand and the disposable income available (to fulfill that demand). Everyone needs to have Instagram-worthy experiences. However, to experience using a product, buying it is not always an option.
Sometimes, the product MRP is too high for low use time (e.g Xbox, PlayStation, your wedding dress), sometimes the product is seasonal (Air Conditioners, Heaters) and the other times, it actually doesn’t make sense to block your money (furniture).
This is where renting is THE SOLUTION.
Offline Renting, as a business, has been present for the past 3-4 decades. Online renting has been present for less than a decade. And therein, lies the problem. The hyperlocal market is monopolized by offline vendors and this leads to whimsical dictation of rates and absence of basic sales etiquette. There has been no disruption in this fragmented hyperlocal space.
Rentezee is leveraging technology to fill this gaping hole in the renting sector.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: Rentezee is an Online Community for Peer-to-Peer Renting.
However, when we launched on April 1, 2017, we were an online rental platform; we had partnered with offline shops and rented out products to customers from these vendors.
We followed this Grofers O2O model for six months and learnt that this model is not scalable in the renting sector.
Inventory model (where we buy and store products in warehouses, to rent them out as per order) is very Capex heavy.
So, we created an asset light Peer-to-Peer solution where any individual, with a verified Facebook/Linkedin account and an Aadhar card, can rent out their high quality idle assets to people who need them and start earning money as rent.
A win-win situation – People can earn money from idle products at home they are not using; and users can save money by using these products without actually buying them.
Renting becomes a viable option to give a product a test drive before investing money to buy it. Rentezee enables you to “experience the product before owning it.” making investments smarter and value-for-money.
Our unique social media UI/UX enables easy adoption by our target audience – millenials. Our product is like Instagram, with a rent button. This platform was created keeping our target customer – The Snapchat Generation – in mind.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have atleast one of them signed up?
Ans: Entry into the market: We had zero assumptions starting out, as we wanted data, customer feedback and market trends to drive us. We launched an MVP with an O2O business model; Learnings: However, consumer data, unit economics and our vision combined told us that this approach wouldn’t be scalable. Which is why Rentezee adopted the Peer-to-Peer business model, and is now your Airbnb of consumer products.
Meet our Ideal Customer – The Young Smart Millennial: Our ideal customer is a young smart millenial – active on smartphones, perpetually connected to the internet and looking for ways for that instant gratification and earn quick money.
There are 400 million of them. And with India poised to become the youngest country by 2021, this number is fast increasing.
Our marketing and 40% of our current customer base is about the enthusiastic college student crowd in NCR. Rentezee enables them to earn and save money on the same platform.
Currently, we are at 6000+ signups with 200+ products rented out on our platform. We have a steady growth rate of ~200% M-o-M.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
Ans: Our current model is simple – we only charge a basic amount on the services we offer that still makes us operationally profitable in every transaction.
• From our Seeders (people who rent out their products), we charge 2% of the transaction amount as Service fee.
• From Peers (people who rent these products), we charge 10% of the transaction amount as Convenience Fee.
• Minimal delivery charges applicable as per pickup-delivery distance between seeder and peer
Product pricing (security amount and rent) is decided by the product owners since they understand the condition and MRP of the product they are renting out. We help regulate or suggest prices as per competition to help increase the chances of their products being rented out. We will be implementing algorithms based AI solutions to automate this process.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: All our customers have been reached via strategic growth hacks, organic SEO and word-of-mouth referrals.
Our in-house team of passionate interns and campus ambassadors, across colleges in Delhi NCR, spread the word amongst their peers and friends circle. These peer groups are also our primary target customer group.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: In the short term, we have a lot of tech and product innovations in the pipeline. We are revamping our mobile platform and will be launching our apps in early 2018.
We are looking to leverage blockchain technology to revolutionize the rental market even further, we are in talks with leading innovators in India regarding the same. We plan to launch smart contracts between seeders and peers in the first half of 2018.
Product wise, we will soon be launching a first of it’s kind Rent-to-Own feature for our users. So yes, exciting times ahead!
Long term vision: Rentezee is building towards becoming the Airbnb of everyday consumer products.
We want to create micro-entrepreneurs out of every college student, stay-at-home spouse, enabling them to earn money off things they don’t use. Since each product goes to multiple users in a lifetime, the total rent earned becomes more than the product’s actual
MRP, enabling a profit for the owner: For our users, we want to create a high quality hyperlocal renting experience that enables them to use anything they wish for, before they actually buy it.
Q. : What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Building an online rental website is not the answer if it does not solve the consumers’ pain points in renting – arduous background checks, unaccounted security deposits and so on – which has been the case so far. Many of the problems can be solved with strategic alliances.
Peer-to-Peer models have been proven to achieve scale by giants like Uber and AirBnB. Rentezee aims to leverage India’s biggest strength – it’s 100+ crore population – to disrupt the current rental market.
Leveraging the affability to social media platforms to create a friendly atmosphere for the users through social media UI/UX, reinstating the feeling of a community
Q. : List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skillsets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members has a specific domain expertise.
- Akshit Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO: An IIT Roorkee, University of Sussex graduate, he specializes in product management. He turned down a PhD offer from Northwestern University and chose to kickstart on his entrepreneurial journey instead. After working for 2 years with FITPASS as Product Manager, he started Rentezee with Jnanendra & Satyyam. He currently leads the Product and Marketing.
- Jnanendra Veer, Co-Founder & CTO: A Masters in Chemistry and a backend development specialist, he has 7+ years of experience in writing code in 10+ different languages. He specializes in building scalable backends in PHP, Django and NodeJS and currently owns everything Tech for Rentezee.
- Satyyam Srivastava, Co-Founder & COO: A graduate from IIT Delhi in telecommunications, he has 5+ years of experience in Operations, Sales and Client Engagement with Knowlarity and Pluss App. He has been instrumental in building Ops for companies from idea stages to multi-million dollar industry leaders. He leads the Logistics, Customer Success and Alliances at Rentezee.
Q. : Who do You Perceive as Your Competition?
Ans: Online Renting, as a sector, has picked up in the last 3 years. The market is maturing rapidly and consumers are becoming aware of the benefits of renting versus buying. While there is no direct competition in P2P vertical, there are players like
• Rentomojo, Furlenco – Furniture & Appliances.
• FlyRobe, RentitBae – Apparel.
• GrabonRent – Vertical agnostic, for the most part.
Q. : What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: We are growing our user base on the platform. We have doubled down on Digital Marketing, targeting the supply side of our marketplace. We expect to reach 300+ seeders on the platform with special attention to three KEY METRICS – Liquidity, Provider-to-Customer Ratio and Repeat Purchase Ratio.
We are also looking to bring product and tech innovations – including Blockchain technology, Data Intelligence and improved User Interface for smooth customer experience.
We have already launched our B2B arm; in the next 6 months, we will be exploring corporate alliances, especially with startups and SMEs, who are on the lookout to avoid blocking their capital on setup costs. Rentezee provides curated rental solutions for them.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Sure. I want to convey following messages to fellow entrepreneurs:
1. Build what your consumer wants: Keep an eye on all markets, not just yours. Watch the market trends with a hawk’s eye. Product innovation is key to success.
2. Technology: This is the 21st century. Don’t build products from the 90s and expect them to be profitable in the future. Use technology right from the start, no matter how tough it seems. If history is proof of anything, it’s that technology solves problems.
3. Launch Fast: Don’t wait to build the best product before launch. Create a MVP and go to market. Then re-launch. Then again. There is no perfect business model or product. Constant evolution will always be required. AirBnB started off as a WordPress site and launched 3 times before their final version that we see today.
Thanks Satyyam. Best of luck!