Camera rental startup KitSplit raises $2.1M

KitSplit, which operates an online rental marketplace for creative equipment, is announcing that it’s raised $2.1 million in seed funding.

The equipment available can include cameras, lights and lenses, but also VR gear and drones. Renters get access to this equipment for a lower price (CEO Lisbeth Kaufman estimated KitSplit usually costs 30 to 50 percent less than traditional rentals), while the owners get to make some extra money from equipment when they’re not using it.

I first wrote about KitSplit in 2016, and president Kristina Budelis (a former video producer for The New Yorker) said that since then, the service has grown from 5,000 to 30,000 members. It’s also acquired one of its competitors, CameraLends.

Customers include NBC, Vox and National Geographic. According to Kaufman (daughter of Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman), KitSplit is being used in all kinds of productions, but some of the strongest interest is coming from digital media companies as they try to the meet the constant demands of online video production. (The industry’s “pivot to video” may be hitting a rocky patch, but the need for video content isn’t going away.)

Investors in the seed round include HearstLab (which also invested in KitSplit’s pre-seed funding), Entrepreneurs Roundtable, 3311 Ventures, NYU Innovation Venture Fund, WTI and Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger.

Kristina Budelis, Lisbeth Kaufman

Among other things, the funding should help KitSplit continue to expand its presence in Los Angeles — users can rent gear anywhere in the United States, but the company is currently focused on the NYC and LA markets.

Eventually, Kaufman said she wants KitSplit to become a “one-stop shop for content creators.”

“We’re reimagining the Hollywood production studio as a local marketplace,” she added. “We want to make resources like gear and staffing and location more accessible to all content creators.”

Budelis pointed to things like KitSplit’s insurance options, its concierge service (to help with the logistics of actually transporting the equipment) and its events as early signs of how the company is “starting to dabble” in areas beyond just being a marketplace.

Update: An earlier version of the story described KitSplit as a peer-to-peer marketplace, but Budelis said that’s not quite accurate anymore, since there are now businesses among the renters and the equipment owners.