Joymode is a startup for people who want to do fun things like host a backyard movie night or go on a camping trip — but don’t necessarily want to buy all the requisite equipment, especially if they’re only going to use it once.
The company was founded by Joe Fernandez, Waynn Lue and Keith Walker. Fernandez previously founded social influence startup Klout and sold it to Lithium Technologies.
“What we do is give people access to all the products they need but don’t want to own for great experiences,” Fernandez told me. “That could be anything — tents for camping, cotton candy machines, a waffle press for brunch.”
Fernandez recalled living in a small New York City apartment with his then-girlfriend (now his wife): “Every time we bought something, we had to get rid of something else.” (As a New York resident myself, I can definitely relate.) Since then, he’s continued to embrace “a relatively minimalist approach” to ownership, and he said many people are thinking similarly: “There’s this mega trend of people really valuing experiences over ownership.”
It’s that focus on experiences that’s supposed to make Joymode stand out. After all, equipment rental isn’t a new idea, but Joymode doesn’t rent you individual pieces of equipment. Instead, it creates kits designed to provide everything you need for certain experiences and events — Backyard Movie Night, Let’s Go Camping, Get Your Grill On and so on.
Rather than focusing on a specific area — say, outdoor recreation — Fernandez said Joymode team members looked at their own lives and at the things they were borrowing throughout the year, using that as a starting point to decide what kinds of things to rent out. He also noted that the company offers more utilitarian rentals too, like cleaning supplies or an overnight kit of sheets and towels when someone’s visiting.
In addition to the equipment, Joymode tries to provide inspiration and support. Curators are asked to share tips on things like popular camping spots or recipes. Customers can also use the Joymode mobile app to view GIF and video instructions on how to use each item in the kit and, if they’re still stumped, get real-time chat support.
Membership costs $99 per year, or you can buy a one-time guest pass. Joymode owns all the equipment itself, so it’s not a peer-to-peer sharing model. The company handles delivery and pickup, so (assuming what you want is in-stock) it can bring the equipment to your door as soon as you need it — though Fernandez said the average reservation is about eight days ahead of time.Joymode is currently available in Los Angeles only, and you’ll need to request an invite to participate. The initial participants have already made around 2,000 reservations, which would have otherwise added up to $1 million in purchased equipment, Fernandez said.
“We’re excited to expand to but at the same time, we’re learning some lessons from the last few years in the broader local space, with companies expanding too fast and collapsing in on themselves,” he added. “We are comfortable taking the time it’s going to take and so are our investors. We’re eager to get to more cities, but not going to expand to just expand.”
Speaking of investors, Joymode has raised $3 million in funding led by Homebrew. Other backers include Lowercase Capital, Founders Collective, Collaborative Fund, TenOneTen Ventures, Slow Ventures, Sherpa Ventures, Scott Belsky and Emil Michael.