Walk into your room, closet, or garage, and count how many times you used all the items you own. Think, how much you paid for that set of tools, movie projector, bike, tent…you name it. And how many times you used any of those in the past one year? Yeah, not that many times.
Now, imagine that you can get some extra cash from all the things that you are not using. Well, you don’t have to imagine it. The young entrepreneurial duo from Washington DC, Orthi Rabbane and Boban Markovic, created TurtlShell – an online marketplace where users can rent anything from people in their area. It’s a peer-to-peer platform that allows individuals to make money off items that they rarely use and save money on anything they need.
TurtlShell makes it easy to find what you need and earn from your listings. The platform matches renters and lenders (owners) and handles transactions through the secure platform based on Stripe platform.
To ensure trust, all users can see previous reviews and have the option to display Trust Scores which pull the user reputations from previous transactions from sites like eBay, Etsy, Yelp, Uber, and Airbnb. Currently, the security is based on refundable deposits, but the founders announced that they are working on insurance system.
Rental listings vary, from simple tools and electronics, over outdoor gear, to gowns and dresses. You can rent even a tiki bar.
TurtlShell also features Nests – a more private groups intended for users who prefer sharing items within a smaller community. This is ideal for apartment buildings, community organizations, hobbyists or any other specialty group.
DC locals and co-founders, Orthi Rabbane and Boban Markovic presented the concept to the public in early August at the launch party that gathered entrepreneurs, investors and DC tech community. The event took place the International Student House, placed in historic venue IN DuPont Circle.
The quirky name comes from the fact that turtle keeps all its essentials within the shell. Accordingly, everything one needs can be found inside TurtlShell.
The entrepreneurial duo came up with the idea when they tried to find camping gear for a weekend trip. “Rental stores were far away or just too expensive and there is no point in buying something if you use it only a few times a year”, Boban explained. Seemingly mundane, but quite common problem, led these two to create TurtlShell.
Rabbane soon quit her job at Federal Reserve to lead TurtlShell from concept to functional platform, thus becoming one of the few female tech founders in growing DC tech community.
TurtlShell appears to be hitting the right spot in DC Metro Area. Living in a city like Washington DC is expensive, especially for students and interns tend to move in and out quite frequently. The expenses add up easily considering that real wages have been flat for decades, rent is increasing, and student debt skyrocketing.
The young entrepreneurs also pointed out the problem of owning numerous entertainment, hobby, and home improvement items, as they require storage space. Indeed, space is becoming an increasing challenge as millennials are less likely to own homes and more likely to rent (Pew Research Center). Furthermore, top relocation destinations are metropolitan areas where the average apartment size has been shrinking (RentCafe).
According to founders, TurtlShell can be used anywhere in the US, but the team is currently focused on growing number of listings and the user community in the Washington D.C. Metro Area and New York City. As for the future, Boban and Orthi are looking for investors and working on closing the first seed funding round which will help company growth.
The size of the U.S. consumer rental economy, excluding homes and cars, is $14.2 billion. Americans are increasingly willing to participate in the sharing economy and utilize its benefits. Nielson’s research found that revenue gained by consumers turning personal assets into income via the sharing economy surpassed $3.5 billion in 2014, with growth exceeding 25 percent. Sentiment among consumers is very positive (PwC) as over 80% of Americans believe sharing economy makes life more convenient and efficient.