What’s common between $50-billion-worth Uber, $30-billion Airbnb, $7.5-billion Lyft and many other similar companies? They are all part of the shared economy market.The concept of rental or shared economy is old. However, the advent of technology and companies riding on these technologies changed the buzz around the rental business like never before.
In India, companies such as Furlenco, India Reads or Blinge are mainly using ecommerce technology to cater to the rental market.
Similarly, in this space, a Mumbai-based platform is using the ecommerce platform to rent out everything-you-need related to travel.
Launched in October 2016, Bragpacker calls itself a one-stop travel shop. The platform has categories across photography, travel essentials, baby care, luggage and outdoors and it’s all available on rent and sale. Besides, buyers can also list their product to rent out on the website and earn money on their investment.
“From expensive equipment to low-cost accessories, we have tried to include everything a traveller needs to travel with. We take the pain out of packing and also liberate travellers from the hassles of buying, storing and maintaining travel products that they end up using no more than 1-2 times a year. With this platform, we bring affordability of the product to customers,” says Manan Shah, CEO and Founder, Bragpacker.
Sharing his story, about what gave him the idea of Bragpacker, Shah recalls a backpacking trip to South America, when he realised that he had overpacked yet was ill-equipped compared to his European fellow travellers, and this despite spending a lot on pre-travel shopping. That is when he realised the importance that travel gear plays and that there are better products out there that can really make a difference to a traveller’s experience.
He reveals that in the past seven months, he has seen growth in his business multiple times and has been receiving orders at hundreds a month. He, however, refused to share the actual number.
Pricing is crucial
According to Shah, he has been particular about pricing, as it should bring the affordability factor to customers.
The platform offers products at as low as 0.5 per cent of the product cost and charges 10-20 per cent of the cost as refundable security money.
“Travellers can save up to 90 per cent on pre-travel shopping using Bragpacker’s rental concept. Imagine using a camera for Rs 200/day, a backpack for Rs 80/day or even a sleeping bag for Rs 50/day!” he says.
Positive unit economics
Shah explains that since the beginning, he has been focusing on maintaining positive business.
Instead of buying products from e-commerce websites on discounted prices, he chose to source products directly from brands. It gave him permanent association with the brands and he got the products at a much cheaper rate.
The platform offers various products for a minimum of different number of days and takes varied delivery charges based on products.
The journey till here, for Shah, was an ebb and flow. He – despite working as an investment banker with firms like KPMG and others – had no technical experience, and faced a difficult time as an entrepreneur.
“Every day there is a new challenging task. Initially, challenges came in terms of product building, brand collaboration and marketing. Today, they are about disseminating information about the product and popularising it among customers,” says Shah.
He believes he has been making full efforts to take his platform to the top in the travel space.
Sharing economy includes car-sharing, peer-to-peer finance, peer-to-peer accommodation, music and video streaming, among others. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the sharing economy will generate potential revenue of $335 billion by 2025 globally.
Experts say there are a lot of companies experimenting in the rental space. They are adopting models such as peer-to-peer and direct rental services.
In the travel space alone, Outdoor Travel Gear, Rent Wala, Shoes On Loose and Rentomo are some of the platforms which are renting out travel equipment and gadgets.
Among the number of platforms, the position of Bragpacker looks aggressive as it offers a larger number of services and claims to have positive unit economics.