One of the big trends we’ve seen over the last few years is the push to bring local businesses online. No longer are online reservations and purchases solely available through major brands — it’s now quite easy for a local business to set up a storefront online, and plenty of them are doing it. Now a new site called RentCycle is looking to tap into a slightly different market: the rental industry, which encompasses everything from power tools at Home Depot to scuba gear at a local shop in Hawaii.
The company launched in a limited alpha last week, and has since signed on over 20 local rental businesses. The first 100 Techcrunch readers to sign up here with the promo code “techcrunch” will be able to sign up for free.
Founder Tim Hyer ackowledges that there are plenty of other sites looking to cater to local businesses, like this year’s TC50 winner RedBeacon. But he says that RentCycle is unique in that it is focused on rentals alone (RedBeacon has a much broader range of businesses). He also says that most of the services that are focused on rentals tend to cater to peer-to-peer rentals, not to established businesses.
Hyer says that the company’s goal is to serve as a sort of OpenTable for the rental industry, offering a full inventory and reservation management software solution that lets customers book their rentals and pay for them online. The service’s backend is straightforward, perhaps to the point of being a little too basic. There’s a calendar management area where you can see every upcoming rental by date, as well as an inventory screen where you can see the number of items you have available, as well as their current price. Finally there’s an area for analytics where you’ll be able to see analytics, with reports on pricing variability, seasonal changes and more, but these aren’t yet available.
Initially RentCycle will be focused on the hardware industry, which Hyer says is larger and less fragmented than other rental industries. In the longer term, he anticipates supporting rentals for parties and events, sporting goods, electronics, leisure and tourism (snow skis, surf boards, etc.), luxury goods (yachts, jets), and baby goods.
RentCycle is free for businesses renting out five or fewer items. Businesses renting out up to 25 items pay $40 a month, or $60 for up to 50 items. For $100 they can rent an unlimited number of items. RecentCycle is a graduate of TheFunded Founder Institute, a startup camp for new startups that has some similarties with incubator programs like Y Combinator, though the structure is different (TheFunded has ‘warrants’ to purchase equity from companies at market value rather than taking a stake outright).