By STEPHANIE FOX
After seeing the success of companies like Airbnb and Uber, business partners Jason Wood and Kristian Pflieger have come up with the idea that they think will be the next big thing. Their company, One Garage Over (OGO), will allow neighbors with tools or other items to rent them out to other neighbors who need them, simply by posting them on their OGO internet site.
“It’s an obvious idea, one that we think will take off and expand exponentially. We all have a lot of stuff and in the new sharing economy, why not share our stuff?” Wood said.
Photo right: Jason Wood shows off tools he is renting to his neighbors from his small South Minneapolis garage. He is partner in a start-up online business called One Garage Over where people can post the tools they own that they are willing to rent to neighbors by the day or by the week. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)
The two are working together despite a nearly 2,000-mile distance between their neighborhoods. Wood lives in the Nokomis neighborhood while Pflieger’s group will be operating out of a start-up incubator in his hometown of Greenville, SC.
“Greenville is one of the top small cities in the country which means that we have the resources of a much larger metropolitan area, while still maintaining a very close-knit community of a small town,” Pflieger said.
Wood said that his Nokomis neighborhood is also the perfect location for a start-up in what some are calling ‘the village economy.’
“South Minneapolis is a very friendly place. A lot of us already share our stuff with our neighbors,” Wood said, “so why not make this an opportunity to make a little money?”
What triggered this idea, Wood said, was seeing displays of screwdrivers for rent at a local hardware store. “They told me it was one of their most popular items.”
“A lot of tools are expensive, and a lot of people use them only once or twice a year. Not everyone needs to own an aluminum ladder. Some people don’t have space or the financial ability to acquire a lot of these tools. But this way, for $5 or $10, you can rent what you need from OGO,” he said.
OGO finished their first phase of beta testing their site right after Thanksgiving, expanding to surrounding neighborhoods while figuring out how to make the site as user-friendly and secure as possible.
“We plan to focus on South Minneapolis, Richfield and Edina for the first few months while we fully develop and perfect the site,” Pflieger said. “From there we will expand quickly to all surrounding areas in the south metro area. At the same time, we are doing a similar launch in the Greenville area.” They are hoping that people all over the Twin Cities will eventually go to the website and register.
Renters register on the site and with a few clicks, can see photos and the rental prices of everything from trailers and ladders to miter saws and pipe wrenches. A click on the ‘rent’ button gives more details. Renters have to agree to reimburse the owner if the item is lost or damaged, but there is an option to buy damage insurance. “Enter a credit card number and arrange up pick up or delivery, and you’re done,” Wood said.
Tool owners who wish to rent their items simply list them, along with a photo. Tool owners set the price, per day or per week. OGO takes a service charge of 10 percent, with a minimum of a dollar from the owner. “You rent a trailer for $25. The owner will get $22.50, and OTO will get $2.50,” Wood said. The site handles the financial transaction.
“Think of all those things that sit on your lawn or in your garage,” he said. “All those things that you have but use only once in a while. Now, you can share them with your neighbors and make a little money.”
Wood thinks that once the site is up and running and more people sign up, the type of items available will expand. There are, however, some limits.
“Of course, it’s limited to legal things, and it’s not for services,” he said. “You won’t be able to rent out a dog to go jogging with you. But, we envision that shortly, people will rent out their kitchen items, their clothing or jewelry. People might want to rent their patio furniture for a party.”
Wood predicts that ‘power owners’—those like himself who have a lot of items to rent—might bring in a few thousand extra dollars a year. Others might make a few hundred.
Wood sees a social advantage to the idea as well. “Rent from a large brick and mortar store and you are on you own,” he said. “But, when you rent from neighbors, it’s friendly and sociable. You rent a grill or a smoker from a neighbor; you end up talk about recipes and what kind of rub to use.”
Wood said that they plan to include small neighborhood rental and hardware stores, leaving the big box stores to rent to commercial companies. “We support local businesses, too.”
The focus right now is on spring, which along with fall, is expected to be a peak season. “And during the summer, we’ll have kayaks and things for sporting activities, for biking to the falls, even for lawn parties.”
“In 2017, we hope to rev up our business. It’s a hobby for me right now, but over the next year, we expect to have 25,000 items with 500 to 1,000 items a month rented. I’m very passionate about this.
We believe that there is a basic need in the market and we want to fulfill that need for homeowners.”