Startup intends to equip adventurers with gear – Inside INdiana Business

Indianapolis-based Quiptu has launched a sharing platform to help adventurers rent outdoor gear, like trail bikes. (Image courtesy: Pixabay/do Castle)

A couple of entrepreneurs from central Indiana want to be the AirBnB for adventure gear. Josh Roche and John Laughlin are the co-founders of Quiptu, a sharing economy platform for outdoor gear, such as kayaks, touring bikes, and camping gear. Their company allows adventurers to rent gear from local owners.

In an interview with Inside Indiana Business, Laughlin said they want people to enjoy the outdoors and make it affordable.

“We are the intermediary between the owner and the tenant. The owner, who has the equipment, knowledge and expertise, meets with the tenant,” said Laughlin, COO of Quiptu. “The tenant often engages in this activity. So before you take the plunge and spend over $1,000 on gear, you can now “try it before you buy it”.

The business partners, who are also brothers-in-law, launched the company launched last week, eight months after Quiptu CEO Josh Roche originally came up with the idea.

Laughlin says the business concept was born out of a logistical problem. Roche, who lives in Bloomington, was invited on a cycling trip along the Great Divide Mountain Biking Route in Montana. But there were no options to rent an off-road gravel bike during this time. So Roche borrowed a bike in Indiana.

“We had to disassemble the bike, break it down into 51 pieces, then ship it to Montana and assemble it there. And it was all just painful,” Laughlin said.

Once Roche was done with the trip, he had to disassemble the bike, send it back, and reassemble it.

“The bottom line was that if there was anyone in Montana who owned an extra gravel bike, they would have paid double to not have that headache,” Laughlin said.

This pain point helped entrepreneurs come up with a concept. But before developing the app, they conducted more than 100 user interviews to examine other challenges for outdoor adventurers, such as storage space for gear and the retail cost of the equipment.

The app does the peer-to-peer introduction, but the owner sets the rental price. Laughlin says prices for a kayak or paddleboard could range from $20 to $50 per day, while bikes could range from $30 to $100 per day.

“The natural market forces there. We provide some guidelines, but the owner can charge whatever they want for the equipment,” Laughlin explained.

The team has already had some big successes. In November, they won the regional Elevate Nexus pre-screening competition. The following month they win the 2021 Carrefour ideas competition hosted by Bloomington-based business incubator, The Mill.

“I’ve been working with Josh and John since they were in the ideation stage. Elevate invested in November through our Nexus Pitch competition and it’s been impressive to watch them build Quiptu around unlocking the untapped value of outdoor gear that often sits idle,” said Cy Megnin, entrepreneur in residence at Elevate Ventures.

Josh Roche (CEO) John Laughlin (COO) Ben Kirby (Head of Marketing) and Brent Freeman, Executive Director of nonprofit Camptown Inc. at the Quiptu launch event. (photo provided)

Quiptu is launching in a total of eight markets in Indiana and Colorado. Locations are centered around college towns and metropolitan areas, including Bloomington, Lafayette, South Bend, and Indianapolis. The company’s chief marketing officer, Ben Kirby, is based in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he will work to grow Quiptu’s market share.

“Our research has shown us that college campuses and college towns are our ideal places for this to happen, as undergraduates tend to be adventurous but don’t have big checking accounts to buy gear,” Laughlin said.

He says they want to build a network of lessors, so lessees have regional options for getting equipment. Laughlin says there has been an increase in the popularity of kayaking, biking and camping since the pandemic began. He says their app helps first-time adventurers to seasoned explorers enjoy the outdoors.

“One of our values ​​is ‘green time rather than screen time.’ been prohibitively expensive,” Laughlin said. “That kind of positive force has got us excited and willing to work as hard as we’ve been on it.”

As for the name of the company? Laughlin says they “seek to ‘equip you'” with the gear needed to begin an adventure.

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