Since launching earlier this year, gadget rental market Lumoid has provided a place where camera nerds, amateur photographers, and even drone enthusiasts can try out a bunch of different devices without having to purchase them. Today it’s announcing that it’s also giving users the ability to make a little bit of money by renting out devices they aren’t using at the moment.
The introduction of Lumoid Locals should enable the company to expand its potential inventory while also allowing its users to make their gear available to others. Launching in San Francisco to start, the Locals marketplace also provides a low-touch way for Lumoid to make money while connecting customers with one another.
Prior to this, Lumoid offered a more traditional camera and equipment rental service. That wasn’t a new idea By itself, as camera enthusiasts have been able to rent gear from local shops and online for a while. However, most online rental shops look like they were built ten years ago and don’t provide much guidance about what the novice photographer should rent.
Lumoid seeks to provide an alternative to those online rentals with easy-to-understand pricing, a bit of customer education, and packages of products built around activities renters will be interested in. The Y Combinator-backed company gravitated toward the camera market first because founder Aarthi Ramamurthy herself was a photography enthusiast, but also because it served a need in the community.
The company keeps inventory of different cameras and lenses that can be rented by the day, shipping to basically anywhere in the U.S. While you might think a service like Lumoid would thrive mostly in tech-savvy pockets of cities along the coasts, Ramamurthy says its rentals have been particularly popular in smaller cities where camera shops the local community might have relied on have shut down.
Lumoid also has a fairly liberal rent-to-own policy, enabling customers to pay over time to purchase the equipment if they want to keep it. All money spent that a user spends on rentals can be converted toward the credit of a purchase. That means rental customers can rent and try out multiple different cameras and use their credits toward the one they decide they want to purchase.
Cameras are still Lumoid’s bread and butter, but the company has been looking to add more products to its roster for purchase or rental. That includes a wide range of drones and 3-D printers available for rental, as well as a push to make GoPro video cameras available to anyone who might want to try them out.
Lumoid’s latest offering will enable users and customers to make money from their own unused gear. With the launch of Lumoid Local, the company is offering a peer-to-peer platform for equipment rentals. That means that regular users can list their own cameras, lenses and other gear to be rented by other users.
For users, it offers up a way to make money off gear they’ve purchased but aren’t using at a given time. In the same way Airbnb allows them to offer up their home to others on a short-term basis, or Getaround lets a user rent out their car when not in use, Lumoid could enable users to cash in on a collection of camera equipment they rarely use.
To get users comfortable with the idea, Ramamurthy says the company will take responsibility for any cameras that are lost, stolen, or damaged and will provide replacement gear to the owner. She says Lumoid already fraud checks to determine the chances that people might try to commit fraud, and so it has a good idea of potential liability from renters.
For now, Lumoid Local is limited to San Francisco, where the company is testing out the model. It’s also facilitating the exchange of devices by picking them up if the owner is in the city and handing off to the renter. Otherwise, the Local marketplace is a way for Lumoid to make money without having to handle inventory of products itself.
That could better margins, since the company will be taking a cut of rentals without having to purchase all new equipment to make available. But it also could mean a wider variety of goods available to its users, since Lumoid won’t need to have a particular item in stock and can rely more on the community.
Finally, for Lumoid it’s just one more way to provide options to a community that’s passionate about trying out new gear, even if they don’t want to buy it outright. And that’s a good thing, right?