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ToolMate Hire

Sydney startup ToolMates Hire is a peer-to-peer lending marketplace for tools and machinery

Between lending baby equipment and charging stations for electric cars, it seems that we’re not long away from seeing peer-to-peer rental networks supporting just about every possible product – one can only imagine what it would be like to hire an extra set of spoons from a neighbour down the road through a peer-to-peer cutlery lending platform.

Sydney-based startup ToolMates Hire is the latest platform to make a splash in the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending market, allowing users to do exactly what its name suggests – lend and hire tools.

Similar to other P2P platforms in the market such as Camplify, which allows users to lend and hire caravans, the concept of renting the focus product isn’t new. Consumers have been able to rent tools for a long time, with rental companies such as CoatesHire and Kennards Hire having made the move online to allow users to hire equipment at the click of a button.

However, the issue with these mainstream corporate services, as ToolMates Hire’s head of business development Dominik Skubida explained, are the higher costs involved. Meanwhile, other lending services, whether online or bricks-and-mortar, are fragmented, unreliable and generally non-transparent, according to Skubida.

“It is hard to figure out pricing, quality, and service. We solve this problem by offering upfront pricing and guaranteed availability in a one stop destination for all rental needs,” he said.

“We believe our solution could be a great way for people to not only save money, but support sustainability as we partner up with local suppliers and connect them with local renters.”

Australia’s hardware and building supplies industry, which covers everything from power tools to fencing, generated $22 billion in revenue last year, according to the latest report from IBISWorld.

Seeing an opportunity to apply P2P lending to the industry was ToolMates Hire’s founder Miroslaw Chwastek, who previously held a project lead role at Sydney-based labour hire company PWF Group.

“One of his observations was that the experience of searching for and booking different equipment has been consistently poor. When deciding what his next business was going to be, the need for a better customer experience in equipment rental and the environmental impact sharing economy could have on this industry drove his decision to help make things easier,” said Skubida.

Inspired by the rise of P2P giants such as Uber and AirBnB, Chwastek began developing the platform, working for nearly a year before launching online.

To lend a tool on the platform, users create an account, add a picture and description of the tool, and set a price, which is usually based on a daily or weekly rate.

“Currently the person hiring out the tools has to pick them up, but we are working on a delivery service which will be introduced soon,” said Skubida.

Looking to protect lenders, Skubida said the startup has introduced both a bond system on items as well as an item guarantee, which covers tools up to the value of $1,000.

“This gives you that extra peace of mind that in the unlikely event your tool comes back damaged or doesn’t come back at all,” he explained.

“When a renter is processing payment for your tool, they are also pre-authorising the value you set your bond at. This means that the amount is withheld by the customer’s bank until ToolMates Hire confirms that the tool is returned back in the same condition and we get positive feedback. Otherwise we keep the bond for up to 29 days until we resolve the issue.”

Payments on ToolMates Hire are processed through Paypal, with buyers receiving a PIN code through SMS and email to authorise a payment.

“This way, if you are not happy with the quality of the tool or it is not as listed, then you don’t give the PIN code to the owner and your funds are automatically released after three days. If you are happy to rent the tool, you give this PIN code to the owner and when they submit it, only then is the payment processed,” explained Skubida.

Alongside the average tool-owner, the startup is also targeting local small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) which offer tool rental services, providing them a space to bring their offerings online.

Renters pay a small transaction fee to the startup at the end of their renting period, while lenders are offered tiered subscriptions and a 10 percent service fee to rent their tools on the platform.

Currently, tools listed on the platform include gardening equipment, power tools, ladders, and trailers, through to agricultural and heavy machinery.

Also in the machinery lending space is regionally-based startup Agtribe. With a focus on ag machinery sourced from farms, Agtribe’s P2P online lending platform allows users to lend and hire equipment.

Skubida said ToolMates Hire is now setting its eyes on expanding its community lending network, as the startup gears up to launch an app with support from a Kickstarter campaign.

Image: ToolMates Hire Team. Source: Supplied.