Dozr raises $1.9 million to become an Airbnb for bulldozers and excavators

A startup called Dozr Inc. has raised CAN $2.5 million (or $1.9 million USD) in seed funding to help contractors rent heavy industrial equipment from other construction professionals who have it, but aren’t using it.

Based in Kitchener, Ontario Dozr’s marketplace lets builders rent equipment, like excavators, skidsteers or one day drones and industrial robotics, either alone, or with a licensed operator who can run it for the duration of a given job.

Dozr launched in 2015 and has already amassed more than 2,000 customers and listed more than $50 million worth of equipment on their marketplace.

Dozr’s seed investment was led solely by Fair Ventures, an investment and innovation unit within Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.

Dozr's app helps contractors find industrial equipment to rent from peers in the industry.

Dozr’s app helps contractors find industrial equipment to rent from peers in the industry.

Among its businesses, Fairfax owns large insurance and reinsurance providers, including Federated Insurance, which actually sells insurance to heavy equipment owners via Dozr’s platform.

While focused on the Canadian market to-date, Dozr’s investors expect it will eventually expand into the U.S.

For the near-term, the company plans to use its seed funding to add new features to its platform, and hire employees across sales, marketing, product and engineering.

The company’s founders are family members with experience working in the construction business, together– brothers Kevin and Tim Forestell, and Erin Stephenson who is married to Kevin Forestell.

One feature Dozr plans to add to its site this year will allow users to upload a video when they list equipment for rent.

“With video Dozr will be able to show the condition of equipment as it leaves and as it comes back to a renter, or even how it is used when it’s on the job site,” Kevin Forestell said.

Dozr co-founders Tim Forestell, Erin Stephenson and Kevin Forestell.

Dozr co-founders Tim Forestell, Erin Stephenson and Kevin Forestell.

Video appeals to contractors who can hear from different pings, creaks and squeaks how well-maintained a particular machine may be. Video also appeals to insurance providers, because it can help avoid confusion over who may be at fault in cases of damages or accidents involving rented equipment.

The company currently offers users a browser and mobile-optimized version of its marketplace, but will also develop native mobile apps, given their seed funding.

Fair Ventures’ Gerry McGuire said his company backed Dozr because it believes the sharing economy concept can work well for the construction market and heavy, industrial equipment.

Users of industrial equipment face a choice between purchasing expensive equipment or coming up short when they have a job to complete, the investor explained.

“Those who become purchasers in many cases.. face issues of idle equipment and excess capacity. Being able to match the demand of users who may be unable or unwilling to purchase the high-cost equipment with the excess capacity of those who have already purchased equipment makes sense,” he said.

In the U.S. Dozr faces competition from other VC-backed marketplaces for industrial equipment including Yard Club, Getable and EquipmentShare.

Dozr sees itself as differentiated from these marketplaces because it provides insurance directly to equipment owners with every rental, allows renters to book talent not just equipment, and because it has deep experience in markets with inclement weather.