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Sharehammer Founder Michael Novi points out that, once upon a time, we lent tools to our neighbors. Some still do, but what if your neighbor doesn’t have the tile saw you need for that home improvement project?
“I had just purchased a tile saw for a single project,” Michael says, explaining the inspiration behind his startup. “It was $30 per day to rent or $99 to purchase outright. I knew the project would take more than three days, so I bought it. Now it sits in my storage area. I realized that other people in my position should not have to buy a tile saw when I would gladly rent mine out for $10 a week just to get it out of my storage area and put it to some use.”
It just so happened that Michael was contemplating this issue right around the time that websites promoting the “sharing economy” were gaining popularity. New marketplaces for short-term rentals of rooms, cars, rides and pet lodging directly between people were springing up, and Michael saw an opportunity to apply the model to tools.
“We launched Sharehammer exclusively in the Raleigh-Durham area as a marketplace for owners of tools to rent them to others in the area,” Michael says. “Currently we have about 100 people [signed up] and we're inching into the teens for the number of transactions after a little more than a month. The renters seem pretty happy to be getting the tools they need for a good price, and the owners are pleased that they're making a few extra dollars on a weekend by lending out things that would have just sat in their garages or basements.”
Michael says that the Triangle is a great target market for an idea like Sharehammer. He’s found that there’s an active and growing startup community, having also worked at the social media marketing company Argyle Social, and since he was already living in Durham, it just made sense.
“Typical ‘startup hubs’ like NYC or Silicon Valley, people don't own houses, they rent,” Michael explains. “Thus, they don't undertake many DIY or home improvement projects. Areas like Raleigh-Durham have young, technologically savvy people, willing to try new services, but they can also afford to buy their houses and need tools.”
Not only does it make sense financially for owners and renters of tools to use Sharehammer, but Michael says its also environmentally and economically efficient: “Why do we need to each own every tool – why does it need to be manufactured, shipped and purchased – when there's one unused somewhere nearby?”
In the short term, Michael would like to see a broader selection of tools on the site. “A lot of tools have strong seasonal demand,” he says, “so if you're using it [now], someone probably would like to use it next weekend.”
Ultimately, Michael hopes Sharehammer becomes the first place people turn when planning their projects and looking for tools. In the next year, he'd like to prove that the idea can work within the Triangle area, and begin expanding to other markets for the next home improvement season. “In five years, I would love to see Sharehammer operating nationwide and possibly internationally,” Michael says.