What if you didn’t have to own anything?
This article is part of a series showcasing six startups at Aalto University's at Slush Helsinki 2019.
‘I kid you not, lots of existing rental systems are still being run locally on Windows Vista or XP’ says Rentle CEO Tuomo Laine. Even though all rental companies, regardless of size, could do with a platform upgrade, the Rentle solution is aimed primarily at recreational rental companies, for now.
Laine explains that a consistent problem of renting is the manual work related to paper contracts etc, and it’s often challenging to make a profitable business model when there are practically no modern and future-proof tools to run the consumer market, ‘The whole renting industry is out of date and quite stagnant because, even though we have all of this modern technology, no one has offered it to this industry in a holistic manner’.
Before Rentle came to shake up the rental scene, one rental transaction would need up to five third-party solutions to complete the process, and still, the profit margins are generally quite low.
In addition to making a more experienced-based rental service platform, Rentle also wants to change the way people consume, from a very unsustainable owning culture to one where any item will be in service for a large number of customers. ‘The consumer will have access to top-tier products without the stress of having to buy them, and then when the items aren’t needed anymore, or their child has outgrown the item, they simply return the item(s) and leave with something more suitable’, Laine says.
In 2017, the company was as a rental service provider for power banks. The idea was that customers could go to any kiosk such as R-Kioski, rent a power bank and return to any other kiosk. This, in turn, led to renting the power banks at events like Slush, which piqued the interest of other events, such as Supercell’s mobile eSports tournament held in London.
It was in the handling of transactions for the power banks that inadvertently led to a service pivot, Laine explains, ‘Supercell’s event representatives had higher expectations for what we provided (a more frictionless user experience), so we had to create a better renting system from the ground up. From that, we started to wonder if other rental providers might have similar issues as well and subsequently discovered that there were other providers very much interested in what we had developed’.
What Rentle has developed is a streamlined turn-key way for rental providers to offer their services and a much-needed upgrade for the industry. Their platform comprehensively handles the entire operations of the rental vendor such as inventory, contracts, payments and reservations, negating the need for third party providers.
In addition to digitising all of the processes, carbon copy agreements are going to be a thing of the past and be digital as well. This means that your contract for one company’s services across international borders will be recognised as well.
Thus far, Rentle has piloted their solution with spearhead customers, and it’s now already in commercial use at the largest ski resorts and other recreational rental shops in Finland to great success. They have further plans to work with other rental vendors who are willing to make their lives easier, such as with their just recently acquired first international customers. All in all, rental vendors will have a better providing experience and consumers will get a better service experience, win-win.
Rentle, founded in 2018
Founders: Toomas Kallioja, Tuomo Laine, and Joel Mikkonen
During their journey, they have raised funding from Finnish Business Angels, Family Offices, Business Finland and Finnvera.
Major company milestones
- The spark: Building a custom rental cashier in 2017
- Pivot: Pivoting the company to rental software provider in 2018
- Proof: First pilot that turned into continuous use for the customer in early 2019
- Funding: Pre-seed funding and 1st paying customers, mid-2019