EquipmentShare: Airbnb For Construction Equipment

Any contractor knows that equipment is a sizable investment, an investment which in the construction industry can run into the millions of dollars. Rental revenue for construction equipment exceeds $40 billion each year. For contractors who buy, the more specialized pieces of equipment sit idle in the warehouse for months or years. Some contractors even have to think twice about taking jobs that need such equipment because rental fees and insurance can take too large of a bite out of their bottom line.

Many of these problems are solved with EquipmentShare, a construction equipment sharing service app backed by famed venture capital firm YCombinator. The premise is simple: equipment owners can make money off of pieces that would normally sit idle, and subcontractors can support their fellow trades professionals while paying more reasonable rates for equipment than can be found at rental companies.

EquipmentShare is the brainchild of brothers Willy and Jabbok Schlacks, industry veterans with more than 20+ years of construction experience between them. The idea for EquipmentShare germinated because the brothers grew tired of the frustration they felt from continuously agonizing over whether to pay exorbitant rent for equipment they needed, or buy the equipment and let their investment set idle. But the Schlacks realized that, when pooled as a whole, the equipment inventory held by the general contractors of a given area tends to be three times larger than the amount inventoried by rental companies.

The Schlacks realized that idle equipment could turn a profit for contractors if they had a more efficient way to connect and share. EquipmentShare provides that platform. Contractors can make money off of idle equipment by offering to share it at rates that are more reasonable than those offered by rental companies. The fees a rental company charges for a piece of equipment are based on demand and inventory availability. EquipmentShare eliminates that price pressure because contractors are only sharing equipment that they are not currently using. The service’s prices are an average of 30% lower than what rental companies charge.

Because the app features a two-sided rating system similar to the one found on Airbnb and other peer-to-peer platforms, both contractors and renters are motivated to keep the equipment well-maintained. This rating system is expected to provide a better experience than the current alternatives—especially Craigslist, which is how contractors typically find equipment shares. The service also provides a framework for verifying the identity and licenses of contractors, insuring the equipment against damage, and protecting contractors from liability due to workplace accidents that might occur with their equipment. All payment processing is handled through the app, which keeps things on track.

While currently limited to the Missouri market, YC should enable the EquipmentShare service to migrate to additional markets soon. The Schlacks are watching other peer-to-peer services for strategies to maximize their move to other markets. Admittedly, there is precious little overlap between other software start-ups and EquipmentShare, but this won’t deter the Schlacks from widening their service area as soon as possible. EquipmentShare is a free app for the iOS platform, and it can be downloaded from the App Shopper site.

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